Merton: “Everything that is, is holy”

There’s a beautiful little piece in New Seeds of Contemplation which gratifies both my Christian roots and what Walhydra in her “About Me” paragraphs calls my “Pagan sensibility”:

A saint is capable of loving created things and enjoying the use of them and dealing with them in a perfectly simple, natural manner, making no formal references to God, drawing no attention to his own piety, and acting without any artificial rigidity at all.

His gentleness and his sweetness are not pressed through his pores by the crushing restraint of a spiritual strait-jacket. They come from his direct docility to the light of truth and to the will of God.

Hence a saint is capable of talking about the world without any explicit reference to God, in such a way that his statement gives greater glory to God and arouses a greater love of God than the observations of someone less holy, who has to strain himself to make an arbitrary connection between creatures and God through the medium of hackneyed analogies and metaphors that are so feeble that they make you think there is something the matter with religion. (26)

How delightful!

Blesséd Be.

3 comments On Merton: “Everything that is, is holy”

  • Ah, you gotta love Merton 🙂

    A friend of mine once said that all mystics recognise each other across the boundaries of religion.

    Another friend once said that if all the Pagans were rounded up and killed (Godde forbid!) and all the Pagan books were burnt then Paganism would still return because it’s about our relationship with the Earth, and it is written in our hearts and in the Earth.

  • Mark Pettigrew

    Thanks for the wonderful thoughts and the bountiful, really cool, links. There is a lot to be said about belief and about doubt. For myself, belief is merely choice. For some of us it is studied choice – for others, blind faith – and I would not attempt to judge which might be preferable. I find it hard sometimes to discern within myself the boundaries between belief and delusion.

    In the movie, Second Hand Lions, one of the main characters – an old man – offers the following advice to a young boy – advice that really moves me:

    “It Doesn’t Matter. If you want to believe in something, then believe it. Just because something isn’t true, that’s no reason you can’t believe in it. Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most;

    That people are basically good;
    That honor, courage and virtue mean everything
    That power and money, money and power, mean nothing;
    That good always triumphs over evil;
    That love, true love, never dies.

    It doesn’t matter if they true or not, you see. Man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.”

    The hazard in the above quote is that the thought process borders on delusion. Yet the joy in the quote is that, assuming we have the discernment to recognize what might be worthy, our belief pushes us toward the light.

  • Michael Austin Shell

    Mark,

    I really appreciate your comment. Thanks.

    You write:

    “For myself, belief is merely choice…. I find it hard sometimes to discern within myself the boundaries between belief and delusion.

    “The hazard in the [Secondhand Lions] quote is that the thought process borders on delusion. Yet the joy in the quote is that, assuming we have the discernment to recognize what might be worthy, our belief pushes us toward the light.”

    These words speak to the core paradox I am playing with on this blog… and the quote is delightful.

    If you take a look at my “Am I a nontheist…?” series, especially Part III, you’ll see the direction I’m going.

    Thanks again,
    Michael

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