“The voice of God is not ‘heard’ at every moment, so part of the work of (prayer and reflection) is attention so that one may not miss any sound of that voice. When we see how little we listen, and how stubborn and gross our hearts are, we realise how important (prayer and reflection) is and how badly prepared we are to do it.”
Remember, Merton is a Trappist monk who most people would say is taking God very seriously. In his Journals, he was writing about himself, not pointing fingers at the rest of the world. Of course Merton was aiming at a level of intimacy with God that we ordinary people can’t aspire to –or can we?
In tune with God?
My everyday life is ordinary. I interact with my wife, answer my emails (lots of discussions with my son and brother about politics and issues), browse Facebook to catch up with my friends, play bridge, read, watch DVDS (going through West Wing again right now), shop for food and cook dinners. I’m also trying to make a special time to pray each day. I reflect on Merton’s journals for one thing, and try to still my mind to listen to God. Many times I fall asleep as I quiet my mind.
Am I in tune with God? Merton’s phrase ‘how stubborn and gross our hearts are’ certainly applies to me. But my intentions are good, at least they seem to be. I’d like to think I’m in the habit of being in the presence of God when I’m engaged in ordinary life, but I slide into my own preoccupations.
This is what it feels like to be finite in the presence of the infinite. God doesn’t overwhelm us; he knows what it means to be human and have everyday lives. But there are moments when he needs us to listen. Jesus told the rich young man to give everything away and then follow him. That’s what Thomas Merton did. The rest of us just need to listen for his voice and respond in our daily lives. Stay tuned and be in tune.