Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Holiness as Action and Contemplation

The last bit of my Merton reflection.

Holiness as Contemplation

Merton warns us against thinking of contemplation in terms of separating “bodily” life from the life of the spirit, which results in dualism. He talks for a few pages in terms of the psyche and pneuma, and finding the real self behind endless activity. I’m not certain what it is he’s talking about (ask Alan; I’m no mystic), but he seems to be working on an idea of contemplation as a restful activity. Even then, contemplation is not truly inactive, for the whole purpose is to engage, know and love “the other.”

Holiness as Action and Contemplation

Right action is grounded in right contemplation. When in our contemplation we can understand ourselves as being known and loved by Yahweh, we can live in the self-forgetfulness that allows to engage, know and love the other without defensiveness or fear. In searching out and loving the otherness of people around us, we will love Yahweh. This contemplation, this being with Yahweh while being with others and our own selves, is the ground of right and holy action. Mediating on truth, knowing and loving the other, will guide us in our physically active work of speaking creative truth and building a healing society in the midst of people whose lives have been wreaked by the exercise of power for its own sake.

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