Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reading Lent




reading for lent this year has led me back to thomas merton's book, Dialogues with Silence, which is actually a compilation of his prayers and drawings. i have read this several times, but not in several years, it having fallen behind a shelf and into obscurity. 

this book could easily be read in one sitting, but that defeats the idea of hearing the prayers of this contemplative as he wrestles with his relationship with God. if nothing else, the honesty contained in the prayer-words are very instructive in a lenten sense, showing how we should open ourselves to the gaze of the Almighty in a long established prayer pattern that comes from the earliest days of the faith.

what is in view here is the monastic idea of detachment, the example of which may be seen if we think about a text like this one:
1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, love for the Father is not in you.
1 John 2:16
For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boasting about what they have and do--comes not from the Father but from the world.
the struggle here concerns the idea of detachment, how we allow the life-long callings of the Christ to impact our choices about wealth, and possessions; what the biblical materials call, "the world." 

when i think of detachment i think of the john michael talbot song, i abandon myself. this sunday past i put together some pictures with the song during my sunday morning conversation for the 1st sunday of lent:



of course, this detachment, this letting go, pushes us hard in the direction of lent, but one wonders if the life of detachment is possible in our world were multiplying attachments tie us hand and foot, and when even the speed of life alone shoves against time for silence and solitude. 

what must be remembered is what merton regularly reminds us, that the warp and woof of true spirituality is the consistent realization that God is not far away at all, as if the Almighty was off in the stars somewhere, but, in fact, he is as close as the air we breathe. so that the real movement of lent, ultimately, is attachment, attachment to the presence of the LORD.