For all the turmoil across the map, in the media, and in our places of work, school, and worship, at last, like the sudden slip of dawn rising pink across our weary faces comes the time for Passover and the final days of Lent. We’ve spent weeks in the wilderness, arguing with our demons, praying for water, and wondering what will become of us, much less how our art can flourish and sustain us. Drained, doubtful, and disenchanted (if we are fortunate enough not to be persecuted), we long for peace.
From Thomas Merton‘s Thoughts in Solitude (1956) comes this Lenten reflection for today from the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living: “Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources” (30). Merton and other heavyweights of faith remind us to look beyond our egos, beyond our bodies, beyond our own minds and resources to the Source that is bigger and purer, wiser and more merciful than any one of us. Merton went on to explain, in his essay “Ash Wednesday,” in Seasons of Celebration (1965): “The confidence of the Christian is always a confidence in spite of darkness and risk, in the presence of peril, with every evidence of possible disaster . . . .”
Time and again, where I teach, where I worship, where I live, in every major crisis and minor conflict or confusion that I raise up in prayer, the one God calms and guides me. He/She does this not because I am good, not because I am wise, not because I am anything, but simply because it is God’s nature to be loving, wise, and merciful.
Every time I read the news or find myself caught, seemingly inextricably, in a web of local politics and interpersonal prickliness–despite my insufficiencies, my blunders, my misunderstandings, and my impatience–I find peace. I am reminded again that peace in the world begins with peace in my own heart.
That peace I wish for all of you. Seek the Source of peace and you will find it.
- The Heart of Spirituality (psychologytoday.com)