Finding union in love

James Finley on Thomas Merton:

The Samaritan going from Jerusalem to Jericho found a man half dead who had been beaten by robbers. As the Samartian bound up his wounds, Christ met Christ. Weakness met strength and both found hope in life beyond division and fear. Love is the epiphany of God in our poverty.

I want this in my life. This is what matters.

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on becoming fully human

My mind is filled with a million seemingly random thoughts lately, all somehow connected to my current spiritual path… the one I have been fighting ever since my connection to God was awakened as a teen. You see, I’ve always been a “go-getter,” filled with ambitions and dreams and the drive to DO SOMETHING. Often my drive to do something has been related to situations where I saw obvious injustice, abuse or neglect. This has, in many ways, served me well in life. I’ve met challenges and survived. I’ve done significant work. I have experienced life deeply.

However, this same drive and ambition has prevented me from embracing my full humanity…

I have been slowly reading a book on Thomas Merton called “Merton’s Palace of Nowhere,” and it talks about humanity’s sin in a way that is new to me. In Merton’s view, our sin is rooted in our choice of independence over dependence. Now, I was always under the impression that my independent spirit was a GOOD thing, so you can imagine my reaction as I’m reading this book. I want to tell him he’s wrong. I can take care of myself and chase after my dreams and do it well for the most part. What’s wrong with that?? Well, that might be true, but I also know something else that’s true. Having lived into my mid-thirties, I realize that my independence is a lie. It seduces me into thinking that I have little need of anyone or anything; it dupes me into believing that I am queen of my own fate. There is nothing better than becoming a mother to bring one to her knees. An island, I am not. There is nothing like helping a loved one die to uncover the lie. I cannot control anything– not the medicines or the professionals who prescribe them, not disease, not my children, not my husband, not my parents, not my puppy, not the earth or its weather patterns. Not one damn thing. I am dependent on God. Utterly dependent. And I am connected to the people around me in a way I cannot even put into words, but they are not mine to change or control.

When I choose to ignore these truths, I put myself between myself and God (thank you, Merton, for helping me realize this). I also put myself between myself and those whom God has given me. I have created this false self, this queen of her own universe, and God has been slowly deconstructing her over the last years. It’s painful, let me tell you. But there is a longing in me to be done with her… because she keeps me from being fully human. My full humanity is in my connection to God and others… the only way to live fully human is to embrace my dependence and utter powerlessness… to open my clenched fist, clinging so desperately to a life of my own making and embrace whatever comes. And of course, to let God be God.

I was recently having a conversation with God that went something like this (beware, I’m not very reverent in my prayers sometimes):
“God I hate this. This is one of those situations where I have NO VOICE. None. I’m just supposed to smile and go along with whatever, and it sucks. They don’t even care what I think.”
“KrisAnne, you have a voice with me. Always.”
“Oh, really? Cause last time I checked, God, you do whatever the hell you want with my life, too.”
“Ok…. I won’t deny that. But honestly, I adore what you bring to whatever situation you find yourself in, KrisAnne. I really do. You bring fire and beauty and whit and wisdom. You bring intellect and heart and intuition. You bring you. And I love that. It brings me joy.”
“Oh.”

And in that moment something cracked in my soul. I finally got it… that this life isn’t about gaining more control over stuff and having my say. It’s about being fully me– fully human quirky beautiful me in the middle of it all. And I cannot do that when I’m trying to make it the way I want it. Because I’m trying to be god. I am less than human– and there’s little room for love or mercy, compassion or forgiveness when you’re trying to force people into your god-plan.

As this Truth is sinking in, I’ve been sitting by our living room fire and praying that the heat will melt away all that is less-than-human in me. I can’t get enough of it, actually. I want to be by that fire all day, just offering the scorching flames my SELF. Burn it away, God. Consume all the cold, unbending parts and let me be fully human. Let me be.