Thursday, August 21, 2008

We're Not Doing Anything

Recently I read this quote by Thomas Merton on Inward/Outward:
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny…. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in God’s creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run the cost and the sorrow come very high. To work out our own identity in God, which the Bible calls ‘working out our salvation,’ is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as God is revealed, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation.
It was a timely thought for me to read, you see, because I've been reflecting on having been here in Oregon over a year now. Moving here from the Bay Area of California has been a big culture change, and we have enjoyed this much slower and much more restful lifestyle!

But I was wondering "what do we have to show for ourselves, in the spiritual realm? What have we really done since moving here? In California it felt like we were always doing something. Should we be doing more here?" The answer I sensed in my spirit to that question was a strong "No" but I couldn't figure out why. The best I could come up with is "Maybe we just need to detox more from the busyness of the Bay Area?"

And then I read this, also by Merton, in Seeds, on pg 14 and it all made sense:
There are times, then, when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for awhile and do nothing. And for [people] who [have let themselves] be drawn completely out of [themselves] by activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act [they] can perform: and quite often it is beyond [their] power.
Don't get me wrong: I understand that there is an insoluble link between faith and action (I even blogged about it here). So mark me: if God said "Do this." or "Do that." we would -- but He's not saying that. Instead God is saying:
"Don't do anything -- just rest and let Me restore and refresh you and continue to craft you into who I've made you to be as individuals and as a couple. That way, in this new unique situation, you'll be able to naturally, properly reflect my image within your context, without striving."
So we're being intentional about not doing anything right now -- and that is the best thing for us.

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