Saturday, May 2, 2015

More questions than answers

Weeks ago I had one of those odd coincidences when Thomas Merton’s name kept popping up, over and over again in a short period of time. Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, a priest, and a prolific writer with a strong interest in social justice, especially during the Vietnam War era. I have read some of his work and have been inspired by him. It seemed more than coincidence—I believed God was sending me a message. I decided to go on a silent retreat at a Trappist monastery, to understand what the Lord wanted me to hear.

So I went to the monastery to spend days in quiet prayer, to hear the voice of the Lord. I have been thrashing around like a hooked fish in the bottom of a boat, struggling to understand what God wants of me. If I could use a single word to describe what I have been looking for, the word would be discernment. I needed to know my purpose—in God’s eyes—what would He have me do with the rest of my life? Where is the answer? Is it in Scripture? Would the Holy Spirit write my instructions with multi-color diagrams and a flow chart on the chapel walls? Not likely.

But as I searched for an answer, I kept bumping into another question—how do I grow into a deeper spirituality, a closeness with God, a union with Him? And it dawned on me that the second question is the answer to the first question. I’m asking God for answers to questions: Where do I live? How should I spend my time? Does He have a purpose for the remaining days of my life? And He wants me to focus on the second question.

Jesus came from the Father, became man, to teach us to be more like Him, to be one with the Father. So this yearning that I have to do something, to be something just may be a yearning for a closeness with God. Could it be that it’s a higher yearning than what I imagined? Could it be that it’s not about where I live or what I do with my time? It’s not the practical quotidian stuff—it’s about Him.

I still need to live and I’ll still fret about practical decisions, but maybe those things will flow more easily, with more confidence, when I have a deeper connection with my Creator.

(While on the retreat I wandered around the beautiful local countryside. I took this photo of an old abandoned church. I love the crooked cross on the peak of the roof.)

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