Monday, July 4, 2011

Contentment II

Here in North America, it is a weekend of celebration: Canada Day, Independence Day - we celebrate our nations, and the freedoms and good things that come as being part of these nations.  It is thus somewhat ironic and yet also somewhat fitting that the passage I am about to quote is not about celebrating human achievement, but rather about realizing that it is not the important thing.

I have been learning a lot about contentment lately, and this quotation really struck home.  We all know how futile it is to pursue "the american dream", but do we really live in that knowledge?  Here is the prayer of Thomas Merton:
Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor?  Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stoned the true rejected You and nailed You to the Cross?  Why should I cherish in my heart a hope that devours me-- the hope for perfect happiness in this life -- when such hope , doomed to frustration, is nothing but despair?  
My hope is in what the eye has never seen.  Therefore, let me not trust in visible rewards. My hope is in what the heart of man cannot feel.  Therefore let me not trust int he feelings of my heart.  My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched.  Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers.  Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone. 
Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself.  Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources.
(From Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)
In the middle paragraph, it is helpful to note that while God has revealed himself to us in tangible, physical, ways, and while we do hope for a physical reality in the resurrection of the dead and the restoration of all things, our hopes are in so much more than what our mind can conceive of now; they are so much more than the things after which our generation chases.   Our focus and our hope and our life must be based on Christ, and Christ alone.

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