Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
What does it take it take to rouse you to wakefulness, and what keeps you wondering?
Scolded by a blue jay,
brashly inserting himself into the grey morning,
I am chided out of numb amnesia.
Arrested at the crossroads by a brave soul,
I breathlessly pause to watch
him navigate puddles in an electric wheelchair.
Accosted by a honking skein of geese,
low on the wing over the urban desert,
I look up at life insistently breaking into my brooding.
Then a surgical slice of sunlight
dissects the day and, without my consent,
totally and silently transfigures reality.
How difficult can it be (how many interventions)
to unfetter us from automatic living,
and liberate us to breathe, see, connect and care with deliberation?
As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference… Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?
In this world of divisions and subdivisions,
carved up by taxonomies of race and class and culture,
we are all tempted to build stockades of self-protection.
As terror’s hot hatreds scald societies
outside the window, over the wall, across the tracks,
anxiously we watch, worry, hope… and pray they won’t come here.
Seeking security, however tenuous,
can calcify our hearts and turn people into problems
and pains into issues too big to handle.
Playing on our fears,
cold indifference sets up shop in our living rooms, work places
and most especially in our churches.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and steadfast spirit within me.
What might it mean
for folks like you and me
to wake, walk, wonder and live each golden day differently?
Much is said about “making a difference”,
but when motivations and manners remain the same
nothing seems to really change.
Perhaps the invitation
of spring’s explosion
is to become different, inside and out.
This is as much about dying
as it is about rediscovering and responding to resilient life
in places and people once considered lost or broken.
We need to be discomforted,
we need to be inspired,
to wakefully welcome each blessed-broken day.
Take away the quietness
of a clear conscience.
Press us uncomfortably.
For only thus
that other peace is made.
Will you dare to dispel indifference
by living lightly as you shoulder the yoke
of this day’s wonders and woes with rinsed eyes?
In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world… As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
-Thomas Merton, March 18th, 1958
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