There is no way of telling people that they are walking around shining like the sun. This cannot be seen, only believed and “understood” by a peculiar gift.
I am reading this morning from a book on contemplation by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who lived until his death in 1968 in a monastery in the hills of Kentucky. Merton lived alone taking a vow of silence out of which he wrote and prayed and filled the world with his teachings on how to find God in the midst of the ordinary through the gift of silence.
And while my heart and soul are touched by the simplicity of his life and love, there is a frustration that rises up in me because I do not live in the hills of Kentucky, nor do I live in a hermitage tucked neatly into the woodland where only the animals dare visit. I live in the city with all of its noise and haste and confusion. I live in a family that is often dysfunctional and work in an office that has no silence, only busyness and achievement and a to-do list much longer than Thomas could have imagined as he chopped wood for the morning fire.
Something inside of me asks Thomas how he would have lived not in a hermitage, but rather in the marketplace, life in the ditches where I live. And so I sit in the quiet and hold my question up to Thomas. And this is the question he speaks back to me across the namelessness of time:
Can you find the beauty in this day? Can you look and see the wonder, the fingerprints of God traced across your busy life?
My dog Riley sits quietly at my feet sleeping, resting peacefully and yes, there I find beauty, beauty in the simplicity of his life, his devotion to loving me and my wife.
I find beauty in the silence. It’s quiet peace, its emptiness, its lack of demands on my soul. It’s willingness to just be here with me and wait, wait for the brush of God upon my heart.
I find beauty in my rawness, the fact that at age 53 I can feel life taking its toll on my innocence and yet somewhere deep inside of me, the child continues to live and breathe and have its way with me.
Yes. Thomas, I can find and behold the beauty of this day. It sits there right next to the ugliness, the resentments I hold and the sinfulness I see in myself and in the world. And somehow the beauty shines on in the darkness. Somehow the question is enough to turn my eyes back to what is right with the world and with me and with those with whom I live and work. Somehow the beauty outshines my resentments.
Thank you Thomas for your question. Its beauty speaks to my soul.
Game Plan: Where do you find beauty in this day? Does the beauty outshine the darkness? Where do you see beauty within yourself?