Friday, April 12, 2013

What I Wear Is Pants, What I Do Is Live, How I Pray Is Breathe

This is not a hermitage, it is a house. ("Who was that hermitage I seen you with last night?") What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. Who said Zen? Wash out your mouth if you said Zen. If you see a meditation going by, shoot it. Who said "Love?" Love is in the movies. The spiritual life is something that people worry about when they are so busy with something else they think they ought to be spiritual. Spiritual life is guilt. Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that is to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it.
-Thomas Merton from his essay Day of a Stranger.

This is a quote from one of my favorite Thomas Merton essays. For those that do not know, Thomas Merton was a monk, priest, and prolific spiritual writer. He is also the biggest reason I started writing my own thoughts. I say that with all due respect for my granddaughter who has also been a major influence. Merton lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani which is the same monastery where I lived as a young man although we were not there at the same time. He spent the last few years of his life as a hermit living in the woods near the monastery. I have spent a couple of weekends in this hermitage and they were profound experiences for me. I don’t know about the rest of you but I believe I totally get the message in this quote. I think the basic message here, and one I need to hear on a regular basis, is to stop trying so hard to be spiritual, deep, and profound. Wear your pants, live your life, and feel the wind. O yes, don’t forget to breathe. All of life is spiritual so you don’t have to do spiritual things to make life sacred. Life is sacred and spiritual all by itself. Of course, spiritual practices and beliefs are fine too and they can enhance your experience of life.

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