Unknown Date, Serial 00829

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Set is marked "Late 1970's/Early 1980's"; #item-set-161


So this is a historic moment. We'll have to get out our guest book and get that signed.
It seems to me there's two basic movements in Merton that make him so rich for us. One
is a movement towards the center, towards the heart of the human experience, kind of
the still point, to there be with God. So a more contemplative moment to the center.
And then there's another movement, a prophetic movement, into the human family, into the
world, engaging with the real issues of violence, injustice, etc. And he lives both of those,
and I think that's the exciting part of him. I think there's an attempt at this place to
really focus on this going to the center and to be there. And I suspect, as I understand
it, with the Franciscan community in Salinas, there is very much this commitment to minister
to others, to be there in service. So I think our two communities are kind of complementary.
We support each other, and we kind of witness to these two fundamental dynamics in Merton's
life. I was trying to picture it kind of graphically, and we'll see this as we go through some texts
of his, etc. But if this represents a kind of a schema of his life, much of it is the
movement to get to the center. If you can't be at the still point, then you're just kind
of fragmented. You're thrown out into a chaotic situation. But if you can be there at the
center, things are put into perspective. Things hold together. But he just doesn't go there
to stop and stay there and kind of gaze at his navel and kind of a self-congratulatory
or simply kind of a spiritual consolation. But then he moves out, and he moves out into
the needs of others and engaging and risking there and trying to witness to the gospel
there. I think there's three basic dimensions of his life. One is his monastic community,
which was very important to him. He was active there and novice master and a real part of
the Gethsemane trappists. And then there was this huge area of his public writing,
book after book, article after article. So he goes, in each case, he doesn't just rush
into the monastic community and do all kinds of things or rush into his writing. But he
spends hours a day quiet at the center. And then when he moves out, there's a real fecundity.
And another area is all these friendships and personal bonds he has. He moves out there,
again, from a center. And then having moved out, he goes back into the center, and his
being in the center, I think, is enriched. So this wants to be a kind of a design of
his life, a kind of a mandala. And I think that's what we're all trying to do, each
one of us, to find our own center, to be there. And that center is basically where we are
united with God and Christ. But again, not just stay there, but then move out and carry
that moment up to the others. I think this is certainly the charism of St. Francis. Scholars
up at Berkeley at the Franciscan College are now saying that it seems that Francis spent
at least half of his life in solitude, just being with himself, praying, meditating, places
like La Verne, quite a hermit life. But then he would move out, and from that fecundity,
go into the villages and the towns, and with great simplicity and power, witness to the
gospel. This is the model in a different way of the Benedictine, etc. So I think part of
the challenge of Merton is for each one of us to, again, rediscover, moment by moment
day by day, where is my own center? Am I really there? Am I just fleeing from that
center in busy work? Or on the other hand, am I too closed up in myself and not serving
others, not engaged in the real moment of history, etc.? We need the both and. It's a little
like the breathing in and the breathing out. We'll have time to discuss and debate all
this afterwards. So I think that's his richness.
Whole series of friendships. Dorothy Day, the Catholic worker. I think that's an experience
rather like your own. Pasternak, the Berrigans, Rosemary Ruther, the whole feminist issue.
Flannery O'Connor, his whole artistic dimension. Alchin, Suzuki, the Dalai Lama, his whole
ecumenical dimension. So there's this incredible outgoing for a Trappist hermit, but it's an
outgoing that's not just, again, flight and escapism, but it's centered. So I think for
that reason, it's the richer. His life is interesting. Remember, born in 1915 in France.
So of an artistic family, his father was a painter. But I think all his life was an émigré,
was exile. He wasn't just totally identified with the U.S. red, white, and blue, but there's
that kind of monastic distance, also a critical distance. He's not just absorbed in a bigger
kind of collective ego, and we'll see that. That's important. His mother dies at a very
early age when he's only six years old. He's sent off to school in England with lots of
suffering, private boys' school, and then to Cambridge. He plays around with a girl.
He has a child by her. That's quite traumatic. Apparently, they both die, the child and mother
in the war. He goes off to Columbia College in the U.S. He's a Marxist for a period, then
his conversion to Catholicism. Then in 41, he enters a Gethsemane. In 48 is his famous
seven-story mountain. So this year we're also commemorating that, 40 years of this incredible
fecundity of writing, and then all these books afterwards. He dies in very strange circumstances
in Bangkok in 68. So this is the 20th anniversary we're commemorating.
What is his spiritual theology? That is his experience, his way of living the gospel. Again,
I've already stated it, basically. His close friend and prior, Flavian Burns, noted that
he spent at least four hours a day in quiet prayer, just in his hermitage, quietly being
with God. Then he would come out of this quiet with God and just explode in his creativity.
He was keeping two or three secretaries wildly busy, just writing down all the stuff that
came out of this, but always out of this center that ultimately were called to be united with
God at that point, at the point of the depth, or the point of the highest. He himself writes
... Welcome, come on in. So he himself writes, whatever I may have written, I think it can
all be reduced in the end to this one root truth, that God calls all human persons to
union with himself, and with one another in Christ. If I have written about interracial
justice, or thermonuclear weapons, or anything else, it is because these issues are terribly
relevant to this one central truth. This is what we're talking about. There's a root truth.
There's this heart of the matter. He gets involved in these other things, not to get
away from it, but to work out new and deeper dimensions of it. Again, I think this is a
challenge to each one of us personally, and to our two communities. Our communities need
a deep contemplative heart, from which we then go out in our ministries, which might
be as varied. Ours would be guest ministry, and maybe writing, and service, and all kinds
of things. Yours is much more engaged. But it's, I think, in any case, this dynamic back
and forth. So contemplation is going to the center, going
into solitude, going into silence. But he says contemplation is basically a social matter.
Solitude has its own special work, a deepening of awareness of what the world needs. So you're
not just getting away from others to just be by yourself in an ego trip. Contemplation
is a struggle against alienation. We'll see more about this. When I go to the center,
I'm trying to get back together. Alienated is when I'm torn apart. I'm no longer whole.
So when I get back into quiet, silent solitude of that still point, this is a reconciliation.
This is a redemption, really, for me, and hopefully for the whole church, or for our
community, and thus hopefully for the whole church. A true solitude is deeply aware of
the world's needs. It does not hold the world at arm's length. Contemplation at its highest
intensity becomes a reservoir of spiritual vitality that pours itself out in the most
telling social action. So this is another way to express this, I think, is this central
reservoir or font that then pours out in all these directions. And you're nourished by
these living waters because you go right to the source. And because you're nourished,
you have the fecundity and you can go out and really be present to others in a fruitful
way. It reminds me of John 4.14. The water that I shall give him will be an inner spring,
always welling up for eternal life. So it's always that go in so as to be able to really
go out. And so he goes on more and more. The true contemplative does not renounce anything
that is basic and human about his relationship to others. He is deeply united to others,
indeed all the more so because they are no longer encountered simply at the superficial
level. As I go into my own deepest center, as we'll discover, again, I don't get away
from others. I then unite with others at a deepest level. On the other hand, if I rush
off just to be with others, some kind of distraction, and the group, the mob, the gang kind of thing,
then I'm not really deeply united with them. It's just distraction. It's just running away
from the pain of my own solitude. My solitude is not my own. It belongs to all of humanity.
It is for them. When I am alone, I am not separate from others. They are not they, but
they are my own self. They are no longer strangers. So this is the paradox that I go to the heart
of the matter, to be more community, to be more social. It's not an opposition, but this
profound mystery of community in solitude and solitude in community at the deepest level.
So, because he's so in touch with the center, I think he can go so far afield, so to speak.
He can journey so far, whether it be into photography or poetry or the whole race question
or the nuclear question or Russian novels or Anglican mysticism or Zen Buddhism or whatever.
It does hold together in an ultimate way. God is the center of his deep solitude, so
the circumference can be as large as God's concern. So there, I think, is one challenge
that he offers us, the center and the moving out. And I think our two communities, we might
explore seeing ourselves really as sister communities, as mutual support. Our danger
here is we get too caught up in our own little inner agenda. And so to be challenged to come
out into the reality of today, and maybe we can help you remember that one can fruitfully
be engaged in serving, ministering to others, only if one comes from a deep place of quiet
and profound communion with God.
There's another area where I think he has a lot to offer. I'm kind of rushing along.
His picture of the human person, then. I think he simplifies, but it's a fruitful simplification.
And the key, to put it in very schematic languages, we've got to distinguish between what we might
call the superficial ego and the true deepest self. This, again, of the individual, but
also of a community. My superficial ego is kind of, you know, the young teenager who
wants to be the center of the world and is full of his own self-made man kind of thing.
It's kind of a very macho thing, you know, of stand on your own two feet, be self-reliant,
be better than the other guy. It's very competitive. And really, ultimately, I'm for me, and the
whole world should kind of revolve around me. And at this level, we spend much of our life
in the way we perceive others, the way we perceive activities. Is this person really
helping me? Can I use this person? Can I use this moment? Am I getting bigger and stronger
and wealthier and more powerful, et cetera? That's all the superficial ego, which is ultimately
illusion. And here, he's able to use the insights of the East, I think, because I am not the
center of the universe. If I fade away today, the sun will still come up the next day, and
this place will be here, and Salinas will be there, and Oakland will be there. It's
just not that desperately important that my ego reign over everything. And that I'm so
desperately important is illusion, from that level of ego, because the ego is precisely
that which isn't important, is that which is facade, is pretense, is made up. Because
I'm not a self-made man. I couldn't exist a moment without the support of others, the
encouragement of others, the whole cultural context, language, the whole thing. It's a
curious, bizarre myth, this Western individualistic thing, that fills us with so much anxiety
and insecurity, because it's just so evidently made up. One book that explores this profoundly,
that comes quite after Merton, but he'd be delighted with, Habits of the Heart, Individualism
and Commitment in America, by Robert Bella. He explores how this is in each of us, and
how it's just the way we think and act, and it can have a very materialistic form. I want
to get rich, and I want to be the richest person and have all my goodies, et cetera.
So it's an individualistic trip in terms of material goods. But it can also take a very
spiritual form. I want to grow, I want to develop myself, my gifts, self-realization,
what he calls expressive individualism. I've got to do my own thing. Now, this can sometimes
sound extremely spiritual, and extremely open to others in the whole universe, and new wave,
and new age, et cetera. But it's also locked into this profound individualism, basically
of me doing my own thing. And at most, I can get into what he calls lifestyle enclaves.
I might temporarily ally with those others who are into a similar trip. I like this.
I like Tibetan chant currently, and I know there's seven other people out there who like
it. So we gather, and we do Tibetan chant together, and it's just beautiful. The problem
of this is people are always moving, and that person moves from Tibetan chant to East Hindu
dancing or something, and this person moves to Native American vision quest, et cetera.
And suddenly, this lifestyle enclave is collapsed, because it's not a deep. And this can be in
the Catholic Church, too. This year, I'm in devotion to the sacred rib of Jesus, so I
get together with the others who are in that devotion, and we just emote around this devotion,
and it's lovely. But I move on, and they move on, and then where are we kind of thing.
So the lifestyle enclave is a desperate attempt at community, though I'm still basically
into my own ego. So Bella argues what we desperately need are communities of commitment, communities
of memory that are rooted in a heritage, that have liturgies, that have a deep center that's
real, that gets me beyond just my trip and what feels good to me and what helps me grow
to where we are, but at this deepest center, which is also the deepest center of where
I am. So this false ego, it's much of the American culture, you know, be the best quarterback
on the junior high team and get the highest grades and have the most attractive girl and
the flashiest convertible, etc. And that's what it's at. Now this is basically alienation,
this is basically illusion and violence, because I'm really fleeing from that deepest center,
which I perceive to be a place of confusion, of fear, of anger, of mortality, of sin, nakedness,
all this stuff. I don't want to deal with the real I inside. So I'm fleeing out into
this big public image thing. I'm in control. And I've got all this public, all my credentials,
and I've got my letter on my jacket and the girl on my arm and all this, so I know I'm
important. And as long as I keep away from that true deepest I, where there's this shadow
and angst, and this also of a community, as long as a community can have really impressive
happenings and activities and liturgies, etc., we're big, you know. So as Merton explores,
this individual egoism can very quickly flip over into a collective egoism. I get to the
point where I can just no longer convince myself that I'm the center of the world, that
everyone else rotates around me, because everyone else is trying to convince me that they're
the center and that I rotate around them. So it just gets into this constant conflictual
thing. So what we do is make these alliances of collective ego. I might not be the center
of the world, but East High School is, and our team is the best in the city, and so I
just sell myself to the high school team, or I sell myself to the IBM company, the greatest
company. If I just give myself to it, there's this collective mystique. They're loyal to
me, I'm loyal to them. It might be the Marine Corps. How many of you have seen that wild
film, Full Metal Jacket? Well, if you're into pacifism, you should see it. But it's
basically boot camp, but it's if you give your whole body and soul to the Marines...
No, this was a movie recently. The Marine Corps goes on generation after generation
after generation. You might have to give your life for it, but you'll be remembered in eternity.
You'll attain a certain immortality, and you'll have given yourself to that which is glory
is greatness is strength is courage, and it's just beauty. You have to die to your own little
silliness. You're just nothing, but once you become a real Marine, you're it.
So they have this whole initiation rite, which is something. So we can do that in all kinds
of ways. We can implicitly do it in a Franciscan lay community. We can implicitly do it here.
Just become part of the commandolies, and you're immortal. You're safe, and we're better
than the others. It's the same thing, strong and self-sufficient and powerful and dominant
and wealthy, et cetera, and it's still illusion. The world will still go on if tomorrow there
are no commandolies here or there's no, frankly, Franciscans there in Salinas. So this also
is illusion, and even if the Marine Corps collapses, God will still be there, and the
moon will still be there, and Venus, et cetera. So the collective ego is also illusion.
So it's an illusion that generates inner anxiety, fear, anger, and violence. It's basically I'm
tearing myself apart to launch into this outer busyness. It might be this collective ego.
It might be just watching what's happening on the Dallas program or following what Charles
and Diana are doing or what the latest movie stars do. I get involved in something that's
out there and real and vague and that other people are concerned about and talking about.
Then I'm away from that inner, again, fragility and contradiction and sin, et cetera. It's
a flight. It's a distraction, and Merton notes the etymology. That is where the word comes
from, distraction. Its superficial meaning is just I'm taken up with this entertainment,
but its deepest meaning is I'm torn apart, distrare. I'm pulled from that deepest center
into what's the latest thing that Bush is saying about quail or what's the latest thing
about the stock market because I'm a market analyst or something that guarantees me that
it's all right, it's secure, it's big and solid, and I'm all right and secure and big
because I'm related to it. So this gets me into an inner violence which
is intolerable ultimately, which I often project into an outer violence. I'm basically torn
apart. So the only thing that matters to me is the East High football team, so it becomes
desperately important that we win. When it turns out that our team isn't that good, we
have to go out and get drunk or we got to beat up the others or something. We get depressed,
but that's terrible. As he says, this can flip over into a national collective ego, our country
right or wrong, God bless it, and the red, white, and blue, etc. Then you're projecting
out the enemies out there. The enemy can't be within. It can't be my own failings and
shadow and contradictions. I can't deal with that. So it has to be those niggers over there
or the kikes or the commies or the fascists, something out there, and I can deal with that
and I can make alliances here and then we'll fight them and it'll be all right, just so
I don't have to deal with this deepest, most scary level of the true self. Just a few quotes
in this regard. And then since it's so terrible to be inside, I want to be outside, what do
we do? We have these multi-billion dollar entertainment industries. They help keep
me distracted. We've got television with, what, eight or nine channels, 24 hours a day,
and then you can get your cable TV and you can get VCR movies and how many magazines
in the store and pocketbooks and radio where you can walk around with the thing plugged
into your ears, et cetera. I can, 24 hours a day, be outside of myself, be caught up
in something else, running. We live in a society that tries to keep us dazzled with euphoria,
in a bright cloud of lively and joy-loving slogans, yet nothing is more empty and more
dead. Nothing is more insulting, insincere, and destructive than the vapid grins on the
billboards and the moron beatitude in the magazines, which assure us that we are all in bliss right
now. If you'll only get the latest Buick, you're just going to be so happy and that
beautiful babe is going to be right with you and you'll have made it. This kind of thing.
It's an immense industry, and that's where alcoholism comes in, that's where drugs comes
in, to get away from the reality inside. One can become so absorbed in the rituals and
complexities of business, so deeply involved in the activity of planning and making deals,
that everything else loses meaning. Home life takes second or third place, the family loses
its significance, personal relationships become ambivalent, frustrating, they interfere with
the main objective of one's life, which is making money. That's the way many men go,
the whole yuppie thing, if I can just be a success, get the money, then the money will
give me all these goodies, they'll make me happy. And if you look at some of these fancy
magazines, there's lots of goodies out there if you've got the money. It's incredible
the amount of, you can fly off to the Bahamas in glorious hotels and saunas, you name it,
you can buy it and it'll entertain you. And it keeps you away from the deepest center.
So what is happening here, I think, is that Merton is talking about prayer and contemplation,
but he's also doing a social analysis of consumer society, and he's just as critical of kind
of communist collectivism. That's another kind of fleeing from the deepest contemplative
center. You know, just so you're marching with the party and fighting against the class
warfare, etc., it's going to be all right. But what we have to be worried about is all
these alienations and illusions in our own society that suck us into thinking that we're
all right, when we very much aren't. Basically, we're being exploited and manipulated because
we're fleeing, and so we're desperate to be exploited and manipulated, so basically we
want to forget. It's consumer society as the opiate of the people. And since we are not
brazen enough liars to make ourselves believe our own lie individually, that I'm the center
of the world, we pool all our lies together and believe them because they have become
the big lie uttered by the voice of the people, the vox populi. This kind of lie we accept
as ultimate truth. Do or die for the party, or for the company, or for the team, or for
the nation, or for the Marine Corps, whatever it is, it's this collective that enables me
to—there we go, turning off the heating. So, Merton has, I think, some very prophetic
criticism of what he calls the mass person, not mass in the sense of Holy Eucharist, but
mass in the sense of, just so I'm with people, just so things are happening, we're out there
at the disco, or we're doing the latest thing, that's all illusion. The mob, the mob, the
terrified of being alone, that kind of thing. This mass person does not relate to other
human beings with freedom and responsibility, but with typological images, a we and they,
competition, the rival, the ally, social images, the president, the sports star, the teen singer,
the spaceman, the whole rock phenomenon is fascinating here. If I could just be there
with the Rolling Stones or something. T-shirts usually express the collective ego of the
person, Carmel, or San Francisco, what are they called, the Dodgers, or something. Whatever
it is. The 49ers. And again, as Merton explores it, it can become religious. We can just plug
into this ourselves, as long as you just sell your soul to the company store. And the company
store might be this particular movement in the church, this particular religious order.
So there you have to be extremely discerning. The first rather romantic Merton of the Seventh
Story Mountain, that once he'd gone into Gethsemane, found the kingdom of heaven on earth, he then
becomes very critical of that. So that's what, again, what he's doing is coming out now with
a whole social political analysis that's of one piece with his whole spiritual Christian
gospel perspective. One thing is necessary. Come back to the center, that kind of thing.
The first and greatest commandment, to love God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind, with all your strength, and love your neighbors yourself. That's this
basic dynamic. You've got to do both of them, and the one nourishes the other. But if you're
just running away from yourself, you're not loving God, and you're not really loving your
neighbor, however much you're caught up into frenetic activism.
So some of his ferocious phrases, our society is a composite of empty beings who have lost
their true center. Now, Robert Bellah would agree with something like this. That is, it's
not the true Christian solitude, it's this individualism that's so desperately lonely
that we cling to each other in the bar, or around the TV set, or whatever it is. This
gets into nationalism, this gets into all kind of stuff. So what do we have to do? Instead
of slipping down into the false ego that's after all this stuff, whether it's the individual
ego or the collective ego, we've got to do this conversion. It's a basic biblical conversion
of changing our direction, of going back. Going back where? Just back home, back to
our own heart, back to the own reality, in all its brokenness, its problems, its pain,
and just be there. Now this, I think, relates to the deepest insights also of psychotherapy.
There's a latest book out by, I think, a very wise man, Gerald May, M.D., a psychiatrist,
simply saying the spirituality of mental health. The basic message is we've got to stop doing
things to ourselves, being violent to ourselves, to remake ourselves here and there. Just come
back to the reality of where we really are, have the courage to be there, to stop running
away, and there, at the center there, this most humble, naked, broken, anguished center,
there we find God, and there we find the beginning of healing. So it's this conversion back to
the nakedness and the poverty. I think Franciscan poverty comes in here. For consumer society,
I've got to get rich, because that's related to power, that's related to big, big inflated
ego. But to turn that around to be poor is to be no one in our society. Who are you if
you haven't got the big bucks? And so it's this incredible conversion of the little man
of Assisi and also of St. Benedict to say, no, that's not where I put my money, on the
bucks that give me the illusion of having this big ego. That's what chastity is about,
whether we're married or single. It's not clinging to this bag that makes me big and secure, etc.,
but reverencing that other as uniquely and mysteriously other. And that other can't just
take me out of my own anguish and solitude and loneliness. But Henry Nouwen has some
profound things there. No other person can fill that ultimate, infinite need of the deepest
center. The person can be there and minister, and we can be profound as friends and spouse,
etc., but if I'm desperately out there to find someone to heal my desperate loneliness,
I'm just going to exploit that person in me.
So that's what we're all about. It's profoundly spiritual, it's profoundly social and political,
really, to do that conversion. Because at this other level, it's ultimately violence. Whether
it's an individual ego or a collective ego, it's inevitably going to get into a conflictual
relationship with some other individual ego or collective ego. If it's the U.S., right
or wrong, there's going to be some other nation out there that's going to have its interests.
And it's interesting to see all the wars we've fought down through the decades, all the wars
that every nation has fought down through the decades. We just can't get to the point
where all the nations get together and say, hey, we've got to live in peace. But it's
the collective ego thing. There's a Wall Street Journal ad that says, yeah, it's a
warfare business, and it goes on from there. You've got to be trained for warfare. It's
a real warfare between General Motors and Ford and Chrysler, and they use everything
that's legal to fight. Now, what we're about is this conversion experience to get to a
level where it's no longer warfare, where it's no longer me against you or us against
them. And that's, again, this deepest center where we're all just human beings. We're all
at this level of sinners and naked and poor and confused and anxious. And at that point,
we finally bond. And paradoxically, then we become great. Then we discover the deepest
level where we are one with God. And it's the paradox of the gospel. The person who
loses his life will gain it. The person who gains a life will lose it. The first will
be last. The last will be first. This paradox. The sinners. I didn't come up for the just.
The Pharisees are caught up into this collective religious ego. They have it all together.
It's the prostitutes and the tax collectors and the unclean and the widows and the orphans.
They're the ones who can relate to Jesus because they can relate to this deepest self, which
is need, which is brokenness, etc. So at that level, we encountered Christ. Just a huge...
So the whole agenda of our society is develop yourself. Get control of it and make it really
big and really flourishing. Now this deeper I, it's a whole different conversion kind
of to get on our knees and acknowledge and live with joy our poverty, confess our sin,
and then start living the commandments. The shallow I of individualism can be possessed,
developed, cultivated, and or two satisfied. It is the center of all our strivings for
gain and for satisfaction, whether material or spiritual. I can do this on the spiritual
level. I want to have big mystical experiences and I'm going to be a really big saint. I'm
going to be into big asceticism. I'm eating less than you are and I'm beating myself more
than you are. Or I'm serving more plates of soup than you are. I'm more selfless in working
with the dying than you are. It's the whole thing. It can be physical, material, or spiritual.
But the deep I of the spirit of solitude, of love, cannot be had, possessed, developed,
perfected. It can only be and act according to deep inner laws, which are not of our contriving
but which come from God. Here, Gerald May is so humble. It's beautiful. He says, you
know, the psychiatrist goes out there to heal people. He says he can't heal people. The
doctor goes out to heal. The doctor can't heal another. The doctor can simply rearrange
the flesh, for instance, if there's a wound, so that this mysterious healing from within
can start to come. The psychiatrist can start, hopefully, to set up a situation where deep
inner laws of healing take over that no one knows how they work. I can't heal myself.
Then he gets into how do you bring up children. He says, I don't know. It's a great mystery.
You try your best and then you leave it kind of to the spirit. But you read this book,
How to Bring Up Your Kids, or you read this book, How to Get Yourself Together or something.
He says it's fine for a while, but sooner or later you acknowledge the mystery of I
is quite beyond me at this deepest level. Again, I can develop a false ego and I can
become more aggressive and assertive and more skilled in all this kind of stuff. But the
deepest, that's just mystery where we just open up and surrender and allow to be. So
it requires quite a conversion of a different spirit. Not, another way he puts it, not willfulness.
I'm going to get my way. We're going to get our way. But willingness, kind of just
opening up and let God do it through us, which is this tremendous surrender, tremendous
poverty, tremendous chastity, tremendous obedience. Finally, let God do it. Robert Bellet says
we must desperately get back from this idea of me doing my own thing and developing my
own thing to what is God calling me to in my life and day by day? And just kind of opening
to that. So once I get back there, I find all this pain and anguish and fear, etc. But
if I can have the courage to be there, then the healing can start and I can find that
there I'm nothing. And paradoxically there I become everything in Christ. This inner
I, who is always alone, is always universal, is always in community. This inmost I, who
is my own solitude, meets the solitude of every other person and the solitude of God.
It is beyond division, beyond limitation, beyond selfish affirmation. It is only this
inmost and solitary I that truly loves with the love and the spirit of Christ. This I
is Christ himself living in us and we in him living in the Father. Amen.
So that's what this design tries to express. Here it's inevitably conflictual and violent
and all that. As we get into our nonviolence, we can't do it out down here. Nonviolence
can be an ego trip. I'm more nonviolent than you kind of thing. But that's false nonviolence.
There's always true violence there. I think it was Merton who said some of the most violent
people I know are affirmed pacifists, but when they let low with some verbal violence
etc. So it's this conversion back here. At this point then I find I'm one reality with
all of humanity in the wounded healer, in the suffering servant in Christ.
So to sum up this brief rush through Merton, I think he's been such a powerful voice in
our time because our time is a time of individualism. That's our whole ideology. He goes right to
the heart of that and he says, hey, there's profound value here. If you can get beyond
the individualism of the ego into Christian solitude, then there's a tremendous value
there. Then you can get truly back into Christian community. I think Bella would agree. We've
got this slogan that you can only truly live our solitude if you're at peace and enjoy
in community. You can only truly live community if you're at peace and enjoy in solitude.
If you can't live solitude, your community is basically running away from yourself. If
you can't live community, your solitude is basically running away from the other. So
it's this dialectic that verifies and heals and complements the other.
So in an age of individualism, he didn't deny it or get exploited. He went right to
the heart of the matter there to be healed. In a political age of all kinds of chaos and
shifting parameters and boundaries, etc., he didn't close off from that even as a monk.
But I think he analyzes the problem of societies at a deepest level, not on an immediate level
of this kind of sociological statistic and that. But why? Not just how many drugs are
being sold in East Oakland, but why? Why is there a desperate need to buy drugs? And why
are people willing to sell their souls to get the big, big bucks selling drugs?
Well, it kind of is illumined in a dark way by this. In an ecumenical age, he's open
to wherever there's of the spirit at work. Wherever there's humanity, he's interested.
In an age trying to rediscover its humanity, he's very much in touch with his own broken
humanity because that's his whole tactic. His tactic as monk and as hermit isn't to become
this great saint, but to really get in touch with his own brokenness and limits, etc.
And in an age finally seeking the ultimate, I think he offers it, which again isn't in
goodies or isn't in illusion or collective ego, but is in the loving God that's the source
of the true I and of the fulfillment of each one of us and of each one of our communities.
Well, thank you for following me with this. Think about your questions, your problems,
objections. We'll now have the Holy Eucharist with Father Andrew from Italy. Is Father Andrew
here? There's Andrew. And then we'll have lunch together. We'll break bread. And then at 1.30,
we'll meet back here for discussion. And that should be mostly your stuff, discussing and
questioning and debating. Thank you.