God

 

This is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil — disgust with the things we have misused and hatred of ourselves for misusing them.

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

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That tree, you know the one,
where Eve got sucker punched
and Adam melted away,
didn’t even stand up for her,
distracted, maybe, by the spectre
of knowing her nakedness
apart from her soul,
thus beginning the dehumanizing
of one image of God by another,
the desecration of created things,
the discounting of God who made them;

That tree, you know the one,
that bides its time
while we distract ourselves
knowing the distraction will quiet
and we will one day stare and swallow
at the noose our own demand
to experience something other than God’s provision,
the difference between Good and Evil,
has tied for us –
we the condemner and the condemned;

That tree, you know the one,
where our discounted God
hung on our behalf
to show us pure Good,
to cut us free.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

 

 

It would be a sin to place any limit upon our hope in God. We must love Him without measure. All sin is rooted in the failure of love. All sin is a withdrawal of love from God, in order to love something else. Sin sets boundaries to our hope, and locks our love in prison.

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

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Sin:
exchanging our greatest love
for something less,
hoping for less than what we have assurance of,
settling for even less than we hope for,
accepting a story of non-provision,
covetousness rewriting hope’s history
into a bleak tragedy
of love beyond our reach
just outside the bars
of the unlocked cell
we are dying in

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

Photo by chris panas on Unsplash

 

CHRISTIANS MUST ALWAYS NOURISH in their hearts the fullness of joy. Try to do that, sisters and brothers. I have tried it many times, and in the most bitter situations, when slander and persecution are at their worst, I have united myself intimately with Christ as my friend, and I have tasted a sweetness that all the joys of earth cannot give. It is the joy of God’s intimacy, the profoundest joy the heart can experience, even when people don’t understand you.

Romero, Oscar. The Scandal of Redemption (Plough Spiritual Guides: Backpack Classics) (p. 35). Plough Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

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6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith— being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire— may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9

Harper Bibles. NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Locations 87282-87287). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

 

All desires but one can fail. The only desire that is infallibly fulfilled is the desire to be loved by God. We cannot desire this efficaciously without at the same time desiring to love Him, and the desire to love Him is a desire that cannot fail. Merely by desiring to love Him, we are beginning to do that which we desire.

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

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You have made it simple,
so simple only a child,
or some childishness within us
we haven’t trampled in our trudge to adulthood,
has the precociousness and audacity to believe:
that the mere act of turning to You
guarantees a smile
beckoning us to come sit
and be blessed.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

 

 

If I believe that He can love me, I must also believe that I can love Him. If I do not believe I can love Him, then I do not believe Him Who gave us the first commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole mind and all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself.”

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

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The system of church doctrine I learned and lived under for too long told me I was incapable of loving God.  I’m beginning to believe, instead, that those who preach such doctrines are the ones incapable of loving God or of admitting that many people, in fact, do.  Their own systematic theology keeps them from the experience they need and long for.  My prayer: Lord, give us all the simple love and courage of Mary, sister of Martha, who chose “the good portion” – sitting at your feet, loving you with all her heart.

dw

Copyright © 2019, becomingflame.com

 

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

 

The Soul Behind My Sin

Can you see the soul behind my sin?
Will you see what God sees, deep within?
Can you love the soul you see
behind the mask that I call Me?
Will you love what I can’t love,
lift it to the throne of God?
Can you see the soul I’m meant to be?

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