It is my hope that you are having a peaceful morning. I have been tuning myself to harmonize equanimity and reason amidst the events that send shockwaves my way. I must admit most make no sense to me and can even anger me. I know that is not the path I want to take, nor will it improve any situation. So I come back to a practical approach- What can I do? But my wiser one says: shush. The question is, What can I be?
I go to books when I need to settle my mind. I like how Thomas Merton* looked at the world and the soul, so I went back to my readings and found a few sentences where my mind settled and thought and found some renewed peace.
“I think my job is to make the grace of an invisible God, visible, wherever I am.”
Thomas’ words remind me that my power to walk through these times is based on who I am and who I will be. I figure I better look again at who I am being. Take stock, as I have said before, of my strengths; this, in turn, helps me find my stable footing. There I start feeling calm and confident. When we are calm, we can see better the good in us and others: the goodness, kindness, the humorous, abilities, good ideas, our backbone, our ethics. When we are in a calm state, our freedom opens, and our confidence stands, allowing the good to come through.
My part is to have the best of me come through visibly as much as possible for myself and others. That is what making the grace visible means to me. Now, grace can be messy. Grace can be laughter. Grace can be patience. Grace can be solemnly standing your ground.
We can make things better day by day. To do this, we need to know our strengths. Be aware and walk through. We will deal with this, each in our own powerful way.
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.” -Thomas Merton
We would like to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is going, but it really does not matter because there is no way of knowing.
“What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment…” This one was easier for me to think over when I did it reverse- “What you need is to recognize the challenges offered by the present moment.”
When I break down the challenges, usually they are smaller than I thought, or I realize I can take them in stages. Sometimes I realize that there is nothing I can do about it. Once I have made peace with the challenge by accepting it or breaking it down it becomes less daunting – by a lot. Sometimes it even dissipates like fog.
Now, once I have recognized the challenges in a calm, more realistic perspective, I am better at considering the possibilities. How can I move about in this? What can I learn? What good can come of this? At times- What beauty can come of this?
This way of thinking about challenges as having possibilities is beneficial for my state of mind and soul. It gives me a sense of hope, and it dissipates the drama by making me move faster in recognizing the challenge in order to move onto the possibilities.
With practice, I have been finding myself to be joyfully surprised in finding the good within a challenging situation. Or the clarification of my preferences or ideals, of what I value, or of my path. In some sad situations, I have been able to at least find grace within them. To me, that is a beautiful thing.
Once I can put into words the possibilities of the challenges, then I can…“embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.” But only until then.
“But there is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.”
This quote can be like a prism. It will mean something different according to the light given, and they can all be true. In my current state of mind, this is what these words mean to me:
There will be endless questions, and these will change moment by moment. So, the answers may change as well. Whatever I ask now may seem important (the world to me)- but it will change—everything changes.
In silence, there is a substance. To me, silence is equivalent to peace, to be in communion. In silence I am Being in the eternal present. I have found that, within silence, the core you, the you true and faithful to yourself you, is. And maybe that is the greater comfort.
My dear friend, wishing for you a beautiful Sunday.
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*According to Wikipedia: “Thomas Merton OCSO (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was an American Trappist monk (Catholic), writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. Merton became a keen proponent of interfaith understanding, exploring Eastern religions through his study of mystic practice. He is particularly known for having pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama; Japanese writer D. T. Suzuki; Thai Buddhist monk Buddhadasa, and Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. He traveled extensively in the course of meeting with them and attending international conferences on religion.”