Saturday, November 09, 2013

We can be ourselves or not...

"The lakes hidden among the hills are saints, and the sea too is a saint who praises God without interruption in her majestic dance. The great, gashed, half-naked mountain is another of God's saints. . . For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self. Trees and animals have no problem. God makes them what they are without consulting them, and they are perfectly satisfied. With us it is different. God leaves us free to be whatever we like. We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours."
—Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
"We can be ourselves, or not." A tree can only be itself. As for me, I can try to hide - discard - and diminish my true self. I can desire myself to be smarter, more organized, and way more affluent ( in whatever kind of currency is most valuable at the time).
Letting go of the should of's sometimes allows for the actual 'of's' to be and to breathe. 
Living in the "true self" means letting go of other's expectations of what image you portray
Living in the "true self" means making some space to say "No" to one thing in order to honor what is true.
Living in the "true self" sometimes means discarding what so easily entangles: pride, fear, failure - to be embraced by God that created and longs to see, hear, and celebrate the true self that was made in his own image.
The world would rather we hide away our real self, in order to fit in and cause no disruption. However, what the world needs is real selves that live out their real lives to address the real needs that surround us.
May your great joy meet the great need of the world - or better said:
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” 
― Frederick BuechnerWishful Thinking: A Theological ABC
True self - show up. The world really needs you - and you, and you, and you, and...

Earlier this week I took a bit of a risk and had my hair cut quite short. I'd been attempting to grow it out, but kept feeling weighed down by the effort and energy of the seeming never-ending process. It was time for it to go - and my freer true self has been thanking me for it since. From haircuts to deep wrestling to release the 'true self' - we can choose to be ourselves or not. God help me to choose truth.
This post is a response to Abby of the Arts prompt this week to a Community Lectio Divina practice from a reading by Thomas Merton. If you would like to join in the conversation, visit Abby of the Arts.

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