Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Desert of Compassion

Here's a word I needed today:

What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish like the lilly. It shall become a pool, it shall bud forth and blossom and rejoice with joy. It is the desert of compassion that the thirsty land turns into springs of water, that the poor possess all things. There are no bounds to contain the inhabitants of this solitude in which I live alone, as isolated as the Host on the altar, the food of all men, belonging to all and belonging to none, for God is with me, and He sits in the ruins of my heart, preaching His Gospel to the poor.
~Thomas Merton, Nov. 29, 1951
from Merton's journals, vol 2- "Entering the Silence", p. 463

Merton wrote this six months in to his tenure as Master of Scholastics (supervising the education and spiritual formation of new monks), reflecting on how hard it was for him to be responsible for so many people and how he knows he frequently messes up.

I am a year into being the pastor of a church with a staff and a daycare center. This is a new role for me and I'm getting used to being responsible for so many people in the dual role of their supervisor and their pastor. I feel pretty good about how it's gone overall, but I know I've made mistakes and I will continue to, since I'm human.

The only way for me to have any kind of success in this role is to spend lots of time in the desert of compassion, letting it empty me of myself and filling me up with grace that is far beyond my ability to conjure up on my own.

So thanks for this word today, Father Merton. I needed it.

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