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Living on the Doorstep of Hell

To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell.

Selfishness is doomed to frustration, centered as it is upon a lie.

To live exclusively for myself, I must make all things bend themselves to my will as if I were a god.

Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, “Conscience, Freedom, and Prayer”

This from Thomas Merton brings to mind words of Jesus:

If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

Matthew 10:39, Peterson, Eugene H.. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language . The Navigators. Kindle Edition.

You might be more familiar with the words this way:

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Location 75096). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I don’t even know where to start. Which strand of thoughts, of the many, do I pick up and try to pull from the knotted mess that’s there?

One is about the rampant corruption in politics in our country and around the world…bending all things to the will of powerful people.

Another is about the kind of economics that steals from the poor and gives to the already-wealthy…selfishness.

Another is about the stockpiling of weaponry, both nationally and individually…first concern is to look after yourself.

Another is about speech and how we choose to use it…exclusively for ourselves.

Each of these threads gets and deserves plenty of air time in our public discourse.

But I’m holding back the temptation to enter the fray.

Because maybe I need to start, to remember as best I can always to start, with the thread of my inner life.

The tragic and tragically flawed little god in there who rants and raves at even the smallest inconvenience daring to cross it’s path.

That spews all the correct answers to all the important questions and deserves accolades commensurate with this great wisdom, greater even than Solomon’s.

That can’t seem to go a day without chocolate of just the right darkness or coffee made from just the right bean brewed in just the right way.

Maybe that is the thread I should start with.

Maybe that little tyrant needs to be reminded about the quotes from Merton and Matthew first.

Before it commences tying all the other threads together into a tangle made in it’s own image.


Grace and peace to you…
dw

Door photo by dw

6 replies on “Living on the Doorstep of Hell”

What’s the saying? I little leaven leavens the whole lump. Would that Good would spread through the whole loaf, the kind of ‘pan-demic’ we need 🙂 (Forgive me, I couldn’t pass up the chance to do a bilingual ‘pan’ pun. I should be tarred and feathered for that.)

Liked by 1 person

I think I’ve said this before, but I’m always struck that Merton seems to be writing for 2021 just as much as for 1955. I guess it shows that every generation deals with exactly the same fundamental issues.

Liked by 1 person

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