Each day I sit down to write for this blog. On some days the words come easily, on others they need prodding. Still, what compels me to dig up bits of my inner self and reveal them to mostly anonymous readers? I do it so that they may serve as beacons for others who struggle similarly to make sense of their lives, who desire (even if they would not use the same words) to awaken to the mystery of their being. My journey is mine and yours is yours. By speaking openly about the ups and down, the doubts and insights, the joys and sorrows, we become companions.
Aside from my own utterances, I regularly quote from published sources, tapping the wisdom of poets, psychologists, teachers, and the like. One of my spiritual role model is the monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968), who lived half his life at a monastery in Kentucky, wrote over fifty books, and whose personal journals reveal a man grounded in his religious beliefs, yet wrestling daily with doubts, fears, and confusion to comprehend the word of his God. Here he writes about what it means to be a monk and so doing encourages me to continue my work.
The monk who is truly a man of prayer and who seriously faces the challenge of his vocation in all its depth is by that fact exposed to existential dread. He experiences in himself the emptiness, the lack of authenticity, the quest for fidelity, the “lostness” of modern man, but he experiences all this in an altogether different and deeper way than does man in the modern world, to whom this disconcerting awareness of himself and his world comes rather as an experience of boredom and of spiritual disorientation.
The monk confronts his own humanity and that of his world at the deepest and most central point where the void seems to open out into black despair. … The monk faces the worst, and discovers in it the hope for the best. From darkness comes light. From death, life. … This is the creative and healing work of the monk, accomplished in silence, in nakedness of spirit, in emptiness, in humility.
source: Merton. T. (1973). Introduction to “The climate of monastic prayer.” Cistercian Studies, no. 1.