Recently, at the advice of a friend, I have been reading Parker J Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation . It has been a great read and a very, dare I say refreshing book on “vocation”. I have been a real skeptic of the idea of vocation and call for a long time. Every since i read Oz Guiness’ book, I have been very cynical of the notion, at least as it has been expressed recently. However, this book has helped me significantly understand it better. No, wait. Not understand it, think about it and sense it. You could also suggest that the context of my life the last year or so has also helped this process, but, either way, I suggest it as a good read.
I also mention it here, on Tuesday is for Thomas because in it he mentions Merton’s notion of ‘true self’ or that which he as a Quaker calls the ‘that of God’ in every person. As is such, I thought I would post a few of Merton’s quotes on the self and self wrestling here:
“Obviously, anyone living a life of prayer has to confront this kind of problem and each one has to solve it for himself in his own circumstances. You being married obviously cannot evade the duties of your state. I being a monk cannot nevertheless use the duties of my ‘state’ as a blanket pretext for avoiding all contacts since some of them seem to be definitely willed by God. One can never work this out perfectly satisfactorily and therefore one always has to face the unpleasantness of a kind of insecurity, not knowing whether one has judged rightly. But it is a responsibility one must assume in one way or another. Once you form your conscience to abide by God’s will, you will have all the fruits of prayer even though you may be deprived sometimes of the enjoyment”
“The real journey in life is interior; it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.” (Road to Joy, 1. 118)
“One must know what are the real attachments in his soul before he can effectively work against them, and one must have detached will in order to see the truth of one’s attachments…This attachment to the self is a fertile sowing ground for seeds of blindness, and from this most of our errors proceed. I think it is necessary for us to see that God Himself works to purify us on this inner ‘self’ that tends to resist Him and to assert itself against Him.”
“Do not attach too much importance to any individual happening or reaction, and do not look for very special significances: all is part of a purification process, with which you must be patient,..[O]nly God can unlock the whole business from the inside, and when He does, then everything will be simple and plain… Identify with the Ground and you won’t worry too much about the weeds. The Ground doesn’t. And the Ground can’t be anything but Good. In Himself He plants His own seeds without you knowing or being able to do much about it.”
“Western thought and practice finds difficulty with the Eastern experience of and notion of the Void as The True Self. In the West no one has treated of person to show that what is most ourself is what is least ourself, or better the other way round. The void that is our personality. Our concrete individuality is not really “I”. “It is what is seemingly not present, the void, that is really I. And the ‘I’ that seems to be I is really a void. One must learn to suppress the apparent division between empirical self and inner self. There is no such division. There is only the Void which is I, covered over by an apparent I. And when the apparent I is seen to be void it no longer needs to be rejected, for it is I.”
enjoy the journey and let your life speak..to you…