Love is our true destiny.Thomas Merton, Love and Living. (Source)
We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone—
we find it with another.
We do not discover the secret of our lives by mere study
and calculation in our own isolated meditations.
The meaning of our life is a secret that is to be revealed
to us in love, by the one we love.
We will never be fully real until we let ourselves fall in love….
Love is the revelation of our deepest personal meaning, value and identity.
9 And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
11 And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meho′lah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And him who escapes from the sword of Haz′ael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Ba′al, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”1 Kings 19
Pragmatism and positivism are therefore interested in the question how. Traditional metaphysics, whether scholastic (realist) or idealist, is interested in the question what (the essence). Existentialism wants to know who. It is interested in the authentic use of freedom by the concrete personal subject.The Other Side Of Despair, by Thomas Merton
I would like to “wrestle” a little more with this article but just wanted to get things started.
… silence is the best option.
BTW: I would love to visit Merton’s hermitage one day.
But this I thought was the meaning of life, that the individual shook off the habit of accepting the favors of difference, should that be tempting, steeled himself against its humiliation, should that weigh down on him, in order to find the universal, what is common to all human beings, to concern oneself only with that. Oh! How beautiful to lose oneself in this way. But then I thought again that in the having of this concern the meaning of life was to be concerned for oneself as if the particular individual were all there was. Oh! How beautiful thus to find oneself in the universal! If the universal is the rule then the individual is the paradigm [corrected from demand]; if the universal is the demand then the universal is the fulfillment; if the universal is everything, if the universal says everything, then the particular individual believes that the everything is said about him-him alone. So if the place and context here did not require signature, none would be needed, for again it is infinitely inconsequential who has said it (as though the favored one said it, the one who was wronged being in no position to say it, since after all they all have it in them to do it).S. Kierkegaard 1846 Journals, Hannay 1996, VII IB200, p. 252
For people are willing enough to practice compassion and self-denial, willing enough to seek after wisdom etc., but they want to determine the criterion themselves, that it shall be to a certain degree. They do not wish to do away with all these glorious virtues; on the contrary, they want – at a cheap price – to have as comfortably as possible the appearance of and the reputation for practicing them. Therefore as soon as the true divine compassion appears in the world it is unconditionally the sacrifice. It comes out of compassion for people, and it is people who trample it down.Practice in Christianity, 60 (Hong)
Compassion on my terms? Is that compassion or self-validation? Compassion is love in action – love for neighbour actualised.
I am dreading the Easter sermon farmed in legal terms – Jesus took the punishment for my sin. An angry God that needs to be satisfied – a holy distant God that is offended at my sin and fallenness so He sacrifices His own Son. Not the Loving Father who cries with me and feels my pain – who has compassion on my weakness and wants a relationship with me in His Son. A relationship that is truely human!
I would like to explore preaching in a modern context from a Kierkegaardian point of view, if I had the time. Most of the preaching I have heard is average at best, simple battle of authorities, or spoon feeding. The academic lecture explaining doctrine is my least favourite form of preaching! I once heard a preacher, in a parish setting, parse a greek verb during his sermon. And there is no need to explore every point of the text. I think Show, don’t tell is a good summary of the type of sermon I would like to hear.
Anyway, here is a Kierkegaard quote: