Other Writings

 

So the soul that hopes in God already belongs to Him, and to belong to Him is the same as to possess Him, since He gives Himself completely to those who give themselves to Him.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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We began this series on Hope with Thomas Merton telling us that hope takes everything away from us so that, in the end, we may possess everything. Here he gives us the answer to that riddle:

Hope’s mission is to lead us to the only sure hope, that the God Jesus called ‘Father’ is our God, we are his people, and he takes joy in giving us all that can truly be called Life. Any hope less than this is a distraction, a diminishing of this sure hope, the anchor of our souls.

dw

Copyright © 2018, becomingflame.com

For all who are in that place of pausing to perceive where their Good Shepherd is leading them next: you are practicing hope now so you can help the rest of us when we come to that place again. Grace and peace to you…

In a world where there is so much drudgery, so much grief, so much emptiness and fear and pain, our gladness in our work is as much needed as we ourselves need to be glad. If we keep our eyes and ears open, our hearts open, we will find the place surely. The phone will ring and we will jump not so much out of our skin as into our skin. If we keep our lives open, the right place will find us.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Calling of Voices”

 

Without hope, our faith gives us only an acquaintance with God.  Without love and hope, faith only knows Him as a stranger. For hope casts us into the arms of His mercy and of His providence. If we hope in Him, we will not only come to know that He is merciful but we will experience His mercy in our own lives.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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Faith without hope
is a dry throat
swallowing hard
to push down the panic
“What if I am wrong?”

Unless it is
seething hatred
at a world
that has no good news.

Mere acquaintance with God is terrifying.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

p.s.

This post from last year is a prayer I have prayed over the years, asking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to help me be more than an acquaintance.

 

 

Hope deprives us of everything that is not God, in order that all things may serve their true purpose as means to bring us to God.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

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What is this hope that dashes all hopes,
yet is the only sure remedy for hopelessness?

An anchor that holds us, drowns us,
baptizes us clean, clean,
cleaner than we ever wanted to be
(but always wanted to be)
in water that is life itself
if we will only drown ourselves in it,
suck it in knowing it is the death of us,
us as beings with the right to choose,
for our own selves,
what we hope for,
even if what we hope for
would be the death of us.

dw

Copyright © 2018, becomingflame.com

We are…God knows, a people who walk in darkness. There seems little need to explain. If darkness is meant to suggest a world where nobody can see very well — either themselves, or each other, or where they are heading, or even where they are standing at the moment; if darkness is meant to convey a sense of uncertainty, of being lost, of being afraid; if darkness suggests conflict, conflict between races, between nations, between individuals all pretty much out for themselves when you come right down to it; then we live in a world that knows much about darkness. Darkness is what our newspapers are about. Darkness is what most of our best contemporary literature is about. Darkness fills the skies over our own cities no less than over the cities of our enemies. And in our single lives, we know much about darkness too. If we are people who pray, darkness is apt to be a lot of what our prayers are about. If we are people who do not pray, it is apt to be darkness in one form or another that has stopped our mouths.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “Come and See”

 

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I

This description of darkness sounds all too familiar to me.

I have an impulse to turn away from it, to not dwell on it lest it engulf me (as it has so many times).

I have a reluctance to admit how easily it can engulf me and for how long.

To be honest, I fear the depression it can bring on and how helpless I can feel in the throes of it.

I don’t want to risk feeling that dark, that hopeless, again.

II

God is Light.

Light doesn’t turn away from darkness.

It pierces it and exposes everything in it.

It looks into every corner to find what might be lost, to nourish what might be starving, to bring order where there is disorder, to give sight where there is blindness.

The darkness does not taint it, does not overcome it.

Light feels anguish at what it finds in the dark; anguish that breaks the heart and sweats blood.

Anguish is Love encountering the beloved in darkness; Light suffers anguish because the beloved is worth it.

Light, because of its anguish, brings warmth and hope and joy to the one engulfed in darkness.

III

God in me, with me, is that Light.

God in us, with us – Immanuel! – is that Light, doing even greater things through us, the many, who are following Him, the One.

The land once covered in darkness has seen a great light.

The land now covered in darkness can see a great light – if I, if we, follow the One in not turning away from it.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Grace and peace to you…

dw

Supernatural hope is the virtue that strips us of all things in order to give us possession of all things.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, Sentences on Hope

We’ve had a theme of sorts running for a good bit of this year on Thomas Merton’s reflections on what love is and isn’t. We’ll be switching now to the topic of hope. As we’ll see, hope may not be anything like we’d expect it to be, today’s quote being a jarring example. Merton will push us to examine our hearts in ways that maybe we haven’t before:

  • What do we hope for?
  • What do we hope in?
  • What does this mean for our soul?
  • What does hope that is good for us look like, feel like?
  • What does it accomplish in us and in God’s kingdom?
  • Do we have reason to hope for this kind of hope?

I sincerely hope this series is something you can connect with, something that speaks to you where you are and challenges you and gives you maybe a hope that’s been missing for awhile or maybe that you can’t remember ever having before.

Grace and peace…and hope…to you…

dw

p.s. Here’s a listing of some past posts on the topic of Love: