Often the story has already come together, and I just need a chunk of time to get it down, but today I have nothing. I know from experience that I can’t make a story happen; it has to come to me like a spiritual awakening.
Last night I listened to James Finley talk about awakening to God. Finley, who wrote Merton’s Palace to Nowhere, said, “Thomas Merton, as a young man, was spiritually awakened to the presence of God in life itself.” Merton was awakened to the reality that he was in God and God had all he needed.
“For in him we live and move and have our being,” Finley quoted, and I ached to live more fully aware of God.
Once we’ve had a moment of spiritual awakening, Finley says,
We begin to ask ourselves: “Why do I spend so much of my life trapped like this, on the outer circumference of the inner richness of my own life? Why do I spend so much time unaware of that which alone can fulfill my heart?” This aching or longing is our teacher.
My throat throbs. I long for the inner richness of God, but I’m trapped by the inability to waken myself to it. How do I get free?
Here’s Finley’s response. We can “assume an inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the oneness we cannot make happen.”
So I wait in this spacious morning with the One who holds all my stories.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
–Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
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Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a writer and Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. His writings include The Seven Storey Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation. Merton is the author of more than seventy books that include poetry, personal journals, collections of letters, social criticism, and writings on peace, justice, and ecumenism. I love this quote from Essential Writings, “Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true.”