the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thomas Merton: January 5, Her Presence Demands My Love

The description of this life style has a certain attraction for me:
A cold night. Woke up to find the night filled with the depth and silence of snow. Stayed up here in the hermitage for supper last night, but having cooked soup and cut up a pear and a banana for dessert, and made toast, finally came to the conclusion that it was all too elaborate. If there were no better reason for fasting, the mere fact of saving time would be a good enough reason. For the bowl and saucepan have to be washed, and I have only a bucket of rainwater for washing, etc., etc. Taking only coffee for breakfast makes a lot of sense, because I can read quitetly and sip my two mugs of coffee at leisure, and it really suffices for the morning.
     There is a great need for discipline in meditation. Reading helps. The early morning hours are good, though in the morning meditation (one hour) I am easily distracted by the fire. An hour is not much, but I can be more meditative in the hour of reading that follows (and which goes much too fast). The presence of Our Lady is important to me. Elusive but I think a reality in this hermitage. Her influence is a demand of love, and no amount of talking will explain it. I need her and she is there. I should perhaps think of it explicitly more often.
     In the afternoon, work takes up so much time, and there can be so much. Just keeping the place clean is already a big task. Then there is wood to be chopped, etc. The fire is voracioius—but pleasant company.
I don't personally believe in the deity or deification of Mary. I do, however, believe that man (both male and female) needs to relate to the feminine aspect of the deity. I have often thought that it is this need that keeps the devotion to Mary in the forefront of Catholic faith and praxis. Perhaps the devotion to Mary as well as the devotion to God is an outward expression of what Jung referred to as the anima and animus in us all. Jesus' prayer, recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the gospel of John, speaks of the Father who is in (within & among) us. It is to this God with whom contemplatives seek union. And it is this God, whether God and Mary, or anima and animus, that is so elusive in prayer. There are many distractions to keep us from achieving the goal of union just as Mertion describes the distraction of the fire. But that analogy is interesting, because I seem to be able to lose all touch with the world around me by staring into the flames of a fire in the fireplace.
Miscellaneous ramblings on a Thursday afternoon.


Blogger the tentmaker said...

Having said all of that, I am aware that for Merton, his experience of the Virgin is authentic.

1/05/2006 3:56 PM  

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