I just finished watching a couple of short videos about Thomas Merton, and it stirred this recurring conviction about my need to meditate, my need to seek solitude and become a contemplative. This is something I have been attracted to my entire adult life, but I have not done much about it because of fear. I am a nascent mystic, a seed buried deep in soil.
I have a hard time being by myself unless I am reading, writing, or watching television, anything to occupy my mind. The idea of actually sitting and meditating causes my arms to weaken and my heart to constrict. When I have tried to meditate I usually go to sleep. My attempts at contemplation end up becoming introspective forays where I become consumed with peeling off layers and layers of self, trying to find God underneath. I don’t think, however, that God is present with us in this way. I don’t’ think that he can be found in some dark, neglected corner of consciousness. It is my guess that his presence with us is much like the mystery of the incarnation. It is not a reality you get when you first see it. I’m sure when people first met Jesus they didn’t think, “It’s the Son of God!” but, they probably thought there was something different about him. Over time, however, as the Spirit gradually revealed who he was, they probably wondered how they could ever have missed it. It is in this manner I imagine that God is present with us. We miss him because though he is not to be confused with us, he is closer to us than we are to ourselves. We cannot find him as an object that we can consciously point to, identify or analyze. We cannot find him because he his beyond the normal categories by which we process the world, and try to make sense of it. I do believe that God can be experienced, but even this is not subject to common scrutiny.
When I go to meditate, I have to be honest, I am seeking to have an experience of God, but I sense that I have to let this go. It has become something of an idol for me. So, In the midst of this struggle, again and again I come back to the word “trust” and related words like faith and believe. I have to believe the still small voice that persistently calls me is not mocking me. I have to believe that beyond my experience of floundering in darkness, beyond my bewilderment and fear, God has me in a way that I can hardly understand.