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Remembering Thomas Merton

Ever since I first came in contact with the writings of Thomas Merton almost 30 years ago, he has spoken to me. I know I’m not alone there. Countless people of every faith and persuasion have found meaning in his writings and his life. Of course, others will counter that with claims that he was too flawed to be held up as a role model, or, dare I say, saint, but that’s precisely why he’s a great example. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: Heart of Darkness

Today’s Wisdom Wednesday is brought to you by Thomas Merton:

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us… It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…I have no program for this seeing.  It is only given.  But the gate of heaven is everywhere.” – Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

 

Mary Undoer of Knots, I’ve got a job -or two- for you

My May Life Lines column, running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

Back when I was young, my mother would take me over to the chapel at St. Aedan’s Church in Pearl River every Monday night for novena. Although the Mary-centered prayer was part of my young spiritual consciousness, after my mother died and I moved away from home, I packed up my interest in novenas along with my old stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. It felt like something that belonged to my childhood, something I’d outgrown. Read more

Holy Saturday: waiting in the shadows

Peter never really used to be one of my favorites from Scripture, but the older I get, the more beloved he becomes. He gives me comfort because I identify with him, especially lately. At this point in our faith story, Peter is locked away — afraid, ashamed, alone. He doubted, he denied, he ran away. Even before the crucifixion, he often seemed to get it wrong. Imagine for a moment that Jesus says to you, “Get behind me, Satan.” Yeah, that’s pretty bad. And yet Jesus saw fit to call him the “rock,” the one who would go on to lead his church, or, at that point, his band of disciples. Maybe, just maybe then, Jesus sees some shred of worth beneath my many failings, behind my own doubts and fears. Read more

Grace finds beauty in everything

“She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings

“Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

“Grace finds beauty
In everything

“Grace finds goodness
In everything.”  – U2, Grace

Read more

Brokenness lets us see where true beauty lies

My “Soul Seeing” column, running in the current issue of the National Catholic Reporter:

If you look around my office prayer space or on my bedroom dresser, you’ll notice one constant: broken conch and whelk shells everywhere. Small and blue-gray, large and sun-bleached, twisting, turning, spiraling in that gorgeous and mysterious way that seashells do. Although I have one perfect channeled whelk shell that I purchased in Cape May, N.J., years ago, my prized possessions are broken shells of every shape and size because, as far as I’m concerned, they are far more beautiful than the ones that are perfectly intact and so lovely on the outside. Read more

Oceans of grace: keeping my eyes above the waves

This is one of those songs that stopped me in my tracks. I happened to have on K-LOVE, when I heard these words sung so sweetly:

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand Read more

The lighter side of darkness

So yesterday’s post was pretty heavy, I guess, and I was reflecting on it as I went about my day and thinking about the depths of the darkness. And I realized something, I noticed markers, I guess you could call them, that to me are signals that I have not yet reached a level of depression that is beyond hope. What markers? Read more

Honesty…is such a lonely word

You will often hear me talk about being in “darkness,” and almost always those posts happily wrap up with a light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope, a shimmer of the Spirit. Something. Anything. But lately, to be perfectly honest, it’s just been darkness. I know that from the outside — and even from the inside — I clearly have nothing in the world to feel dark about. But there it is. Enveloping. Suffocating. Punishing. Frightening. Read more