For the last couple of weeks I have been reading Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth.” (Note: I was reading it before I had any idea it was enjoying a resurgence – heaven forbid I should actually do something because it’s popular.) I enjoyed it well enough, though at the end it seemed to wrap up a little too neatly and to have been a little too much about the lusty nature of the 12th century English characters. But I’ll probably go on to read his “World Without End” before too much longer.
Before taking a break to read some fiction I had been reading the journals of Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, poet, social activist, and spiritual writer. Picking up where I left off to read “Pillars” I was struck by an entry from February 12, 1953.
Merton was meditating on the story of the blind man Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) and its relationship to the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians about the time when, we are told, we will “know as we are known.” (1 Cor 13:12):
It is in the passion of Christ that God has proved to us that He has “known” us. That He has recognized us in our misery. That He has found his lost image in our fallen state and reclaimed it for His own, cleansed in the charity of His Divine Son.
It is on the cross that God has known us: He has searched our souls with His compassion and experienced the full extent of our capacity for wickedness: it is on the cross that He has known our exile, and ended it, and brought us home to Him.
We have to return to Him through the same gate of charity by which He came to us. If we had to open the gate ourselves, we could never do it. He has done the work. It is for us to follow Him and enter in by all those things which go together to fulfill in us the law of charity, in which all virtues are complete.
– “A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life.” Journals of Thomas Merton, vol 3. HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. pp 31-32.
A belated Happy Easter. And to my Jewish friends, an early Happy Passover. One of the things I miss most about Lenten observances in our community in years past is the Seder meal we used to have to celebrate and honor our shared heritage with the Jewish people. It helps to remember where you come from. Shalom!