Wednesday, October 23, 2013


. . . the clean, unselfish love that does not live 
on what it gets but on what it gives; 
a love that increases by pouring itself out for others, 
that grows by self-sacrifice 
and becomes mighty by throwing itself away.
~ Thomas Merton 

Dear TM,

In my very recent life I would have read your words, nodding my head in wholehearted agreement, and continued to strive to reach the nirvana of selflessness. And I realize your living of the contemplative life logically brings you to this conclusion. It is noble and admirable and, as you say, the "perfection of love." But contemplate and answer this:

What of those who live IN the world who have less time for contemplation and prayer, and who attempt to carry these thoughts to their self-sacrificing extreme, striving for that perfection? What is to happen to them when they "pour out for others" at such a level that they have nothing left of their "self" to "throw away?" I think in your contemplative life where renewal of self is part of your daily practice, you may forget that the self must be continually replenished and renewed if it is to be able to have anything to offer anyone else. Otherwise, like the anorexic whose body begins to feed on itself because there is nothing left to consume, one becomes an empty shell with very little to offer.

Pour out yourself for me, Thomas, and contemplate that.


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