Thomas Merton, in the later part of his life, believed he discovered a path which would fulfill a missing component of his spiritual search.¹ That missing component Merton found was clarity.
Clarity allows us to see the connection of things. Clarity allows us to develop the ability to participate as fully as possible in the life of God. Clarity allows us in times of doubt, pain, suffering, injustice, betrayal, and uncertainty to see beyond the chaos to the order, the “effect” that illuminates God’s love in times when our world seems quite dark, tangled, difficult and confusing.
Recently, I have returned to blogging as a means of sharing my journey as a spiritual pilgrim and seeker of the Way of Truth. Years ago I used blogging to challenge a significant injustice in the denomination I was serving. After that time I used blogging to focus on spiritual issues in order to help the churches I was serving.
To be honest, I have not been an active blogger for the last two years. During the past few years, I found blogging to be very hard. It was hard because I found myself in a very difficult situation that neither prayer nor continuous reflection provided any understanding. I found myself in a situation of struggling with hidden evil, angry, hostile spirits that left me empty and distracted. I was always busy but felt very unproductive.
I also found myself in a struggle with graceless attitudes while engaged with people who wanted to embarrass and hurt me no matter how I tried to love and serve them. This struggle took its toll mentally, emotionally, physically, financially and, sadly, spiritually.
Finally, I finally realized I was viewed as an expendable religious consumable that others had decided to cast aside. I must be honest, I had never felt lower, more worthless, and hopeless in my life. This is not a place I would wish on any human being. I reached the point of hoping the physical pain I was experiencing would increase in hope that it would eclipse the mental and spiritual pain I was enduring.
So, after a conference with a suspect supervisor who either unknowingly or very cleverly confirmed the hopelessness of my situation, I officially retired from the organization I was serving and threw myself at God’s mercy. It was a moment of clarity.
I know, this sounds like a poor me pity party and perhaps, up to this point it actually is. This is where clarity comes in. Once I made the decision to step away, the darkness and fog began to clear. I still had the pain and the uncertainty of how I would financially support myself, but what I received was more than enough compensation and consolation.
Suddenly I begin to see a pattern and purpose to all I had experienced. God was moving me to a place of healing. God was picking up the broken pieces and putting them back together in a new way. God was showing me a path of faith I likely would never have known this side of eternity without going the things of the past two years and sparring me the uncertainty that now faces what I left.
Some people seek certainty. Some people seek continuity while others seek conformity. As for me and my house, I am thankful for clarity that makes the complexity something to embrace rather than avoid.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. (Isa. 55:8 NRS)
¹Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice, Ed. Christopher C.H. Cook, Julienne McLean & Peter Tyler, Rutledge, NY, 2018)