PRAYER: On Contemplation, by Thomas Merton

contemplation thomas merton

From New Seeds of Contemplation

Contemplation is life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive.  It is spiritual wonder.  It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being.  It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being.  It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source.  Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source.  It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes beyond reason and beyond simple faith.  It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words, or even in clear concepts.

Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: for we ourselves are words of His.  But we are words that are meant to respond to Him, to answer to Him, to echo Him, and even in some way to contain Him and signify Him.  Contemplation is this echo.  It is a deep resonance in the inmost center of our spirit in which our very life loses its separate voice and re-sounds with the majesty and the mercy of the Hidden and Living One.

It is awakening, enlightenment, and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God’s creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life.  Hence contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return.  On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery, and His own freedom.

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