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A Seeker Looking For A Home


LakeGazer
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I'm in the middle of wondering where I belong. I have been ignoring a call to ministry because I cannot see myself serving in a sacrificial-based theology. We all serve a living Deity and one that call to an overflowing life. Stay tuned. This is going to be an adventure!

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Hi and welcome LakeGazer,

 

You are certainly not among strangers to that wondering feeling. You are always welcome to express your own unique views on this forum and grow on your journey while also contributing to anothers.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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Hi Lake Gazer and welcome. I understand the feeling of wondering where you belong. Many of us do.

 

I'm curious about what you mean by "sacrificial based theology" since you seem so worried about serving God in that paradigm. Do you mean serving in a church with conservative theology, which regards Christ only or predominantly as a sacrifice for sin? Or do you mean something else altogether?

 

In any case, blessings on your adventure, including the challenge of your call to ministry, and we're glad you've given us the chance to share it with you.

 

I'm in the middle of wondering where I belong. I have been ignoring a call to ministry because I cannot see myself serving in a sacrificial-based theology. We all serve a living Deity and one that call to an overflowing life. Stay tuned. This is going to be an adventure!

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Welcome Lakegazer, I've already replied to your post on the Merton thread.

 

I love the words from the Dhammapada, speaking of the thoughtful who exert themselves, being like swans leaving the lake, leaving home after home behind.

 

Maybe less gazing and a little more flapping of the wings...... :D

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Hi Lakegazer,

 

If you feel like saying more about Bede Griffiths, I’d be interested to hear—have only read one biographical sketch. I’m drawn to his recognition of the divine feminine—though maybe his concept is that of an ambivalent earth goddess, rather than the compassionate figure of Wisdom in the bible / apocrypha --? Like Merton, he was a lifelong monk with no serious relationships with women, it seems. Mostly I admire the emphasis on the unity of all spiritual experience or contemplation. And his openness -- “he had no guile and saw no guile in others” -- that is refreshing.

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Hi Lakegazer,

 

If you feel like saying more about Bede Griffiths, I’d be interested to hear—have only read one biographical sketch. I’m drawn to his recognition of the divine feminine—though maybe his concept is that of an ambivalent earth goddess, rather than the compassionate figure of Wisdom in the bible / apocrypha --? Like Merton, he was a lifelong monk with no serious relationships with women, it seems. Mostly I admire the emphasis on the unity of all spiritual experience or contemplation. And his openness -- “he had no guile and saw no guile in others” -- that is refreshing.

 

rivanna,

 

Drifting off-topic, in as much as I have already greeted LakeGazer, but your own post gave me pause for thought. I then thought I would offer a few words.......having far too much time on my hands today..... :P

 

I suppose the impression can be given that Merton spent his entire life as some sort of ethereal figure silently floating along the corridoors of the monastery, or closeted in a spartan cell! Well, there may have been some of that. But I owuld just repeat - via the marvels of cut and paste - a post I made on another thread/forum......

 

I suppose the impression can be given, when a thread is composed of quotes alone, that the words originate from some ethereal source and not from a concrete human being. Whether or not this is the case, I would just like to speak of Merton's own very lovable humanity. There is a wonderful photo of Merton in the Lion edition of "The Intimate Merton" that is worth a million words. The caption is "This is the old hillbilly who knows where the still is", and it truly captures the man as he must have been known to his own friends, full of fun and humour. The expression on his face is a picture indeed! When Henri Nouwen met him, he spoke of an initial reaction of disppointment as nothing "very special, profound or spiritual" occured............

 

"Maybe I expected something unusual, something to talk about with others or to write home about. But Thomas Merton proved to be a very down-to-earth, healthy human being who was not going to perform to satisfy our curiosity. He was one of us...............(later) I became very grateful for that one unspectacular encounter. I found that whenever I was tempted to let myself be carried away by lofty ideas or cloudy aspirations, I had only to remind myself of that one afternoon to bring myself back to earth. (With) my mind's eye I saw him again as that earthy man, dressed in sloppy blue jeans, loud, laughing, friendly and unpretentious.................."

 

There is a passage in one of his letters (which I am totally unable to locate at the moment!) where he relates an episode following the ordination of one of his best friends, Dan Walsh, in 1967. Following the ceremony, Merton and a few of his other friends got just a little tiddly on alcohol and began falling around with laughter. Looking on was a group of nuns who appeared just a little shocked! "Another pillar of the Church had fallen" comments Merton.

 

(My apologies for taking up so much space! I have no wish to indulge in "hero worship"! As Henri Nouwen himself said, "Merton is no more than a window through whom we may perhaps catch a glimpse of the One who had called him to a life of prayer and solitude". He said many times himself that he sought to become "no-one".)

 

Anyway, a final quote, from a letter contained in "The School of Charity", written in August 1964.......

 

I see clearer than ever that I am not a monk.........................I expect to live for a few more years, hoping that I will not go nuts...............This, I think, is about the best I can hope for. It sums up the total of my expectations for the immediate future. If on top of this the Lord sees fit in His mercy to admit me to a non-monastic corner of heaven, among the beatniks and pacifists and other maniacs, I will be exceedingly grateful. Doubtless there will be a few pseudo-hermits among them and we will all sit around and look at each other and wonder how we made it. Up above will be the monks, with a clearer view of their own status and a more profound capacity to appreciate the meaning of status and the value of having one.....

 

Maybe it can be all summed up by a comment made by Merton when visited in 1954 by his friend Mark Van Doren. Van Doren remarked that Merton had not changed much. Merton replied....."Why should I? Here our duty is to be more ourselves, not less"

 

Anyway, further, as far as the Feminine is concerned - divine or otherwise - Merton did have a long interest in Sophia (Wisdom) that as far as I can see he associated such with Mary, the Mother of God. I belive he wrote poems, and certainly a few prose works (essays) on the subject. Alas, though, his writings otherwise show a lack of what we would now call "PC"!!! To save his blushes, I sometimes amend such for public consumption...... :D

 

As far as the "otherwise" (re the "feminine") is concerned, it is quite well documented that Merton fathered a child while at Cambridge, and the mother was "bought off". Also, per the Journals and various biographies, he certainly had a liaison of sorts with a nurse during the sixties, a lady he met while convalescing after a minor operation. The lady herself certainly wanted him to leave the monastic community, and Merton seemed at one point in a haze of indecision before calling the "affair" off.

 

Oh! the scandal!

 

As far as the words quoted that Merton saw that he was no monk, during the last few years he was a "hermit" living virtually outside of the monastic community. The visitors to his hermiatge were many. He seemed to come and go as he pleased. I could go on, but perhaps enough is enough.

 

:)

Edited by tariki
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Tariki,

 

Please don’t think I was being critical of Merton, monks, or men who are celibate. You know I’ve found much to admire in his work. And God knows I’m totally supportive of gays. I do remember reading somewhere that Merton was a very down-to-earth dude, loved his beer and a good laugh. I was just curious to hear more on Griffith’s discussion of the feminine aspect of God.

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Please don’t think I was being critical of Merton, monks, or men who are celibate.

 

rivanna, not at all, I just read through your post and my lurid mind was jogged with the thought of Merton's joust with the nurse, and thought it worth a mention. As usual, one thing led to another.

 

Sorry, I can't help with Bede Griffiths. What I read by - and of - him is in the distant past. You could try googling "Griffiths feminine" or something and see what you get.

 

And, yes, Merton did like his beer, always calling it "olly" - or somesuch name - and his Asian Journal often refers to his partaking of the various local brews...... :D

 

All the best

Derek

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