As soon as we start to verbalise there is a desire to find meaning. The small child repeatedly asks ‘why’ and the following response elicits another ‘why’. Freud called this the epistemological drive and felt that it was an innate characteristic of being human. It’s also surely the urge to find meaning that drives spiritual searching. To be alive is to be in a state of becoming – a state of potential. I think this is what is meant about being in a state of continual conversion. In other words it is a form of death to find that one has arrived and there is no further urge to search further and deeper and onwards. There is complete comfort in the idea that as we look so we find and as we knock the door is opened but again it is a dynamic process. In other words the joy is in the travelling not necessarily in the arrival.
One of the great things about Thomas Merton is that he was always open to new possibilities and his writings confirm his enthusiasm and zest for discovery of new things. 2015 is the centenary of his birth and it is rightfully a celebration of his life.
Not so many days now before we reach the shortest point of the year and to survive that as many pagans realised was something to be celebrated. After all from that point there is than a sense that we may begin to move into the light away from the dark night and the sombre days. Dark times which have a hint of unease and a lack of safety about them. Advent is the time of waiting and hoping and that can take place within bleakness.… And yet there is always a sliver of just maybe … just maybe things could change….
Thomas Merton wrote about the indestructible kernel of hope that is contained within Christmas and that this at all costs has to be grasped. He thought that Christmas was not just a sweet regression to breastfeeding and to infancy but was a serious and sometimes difficult feast. For in the middle of the darkness there is the possibility of a transformation brought by a shy and silent child who transforms the winter night into paradise. As Merton reminds us this is for those who, like the shepherds and the humble Kings come to find him where no one thinks of looking ‘in the obviousness and poverty of ordinary everyday life’.