I first starting reading books by Thomas Merton about twenty years ago. I fell in love with his understanding of God and Spirituality. Reading Merton changed my life. His work has affirmed my own understanding and opened me to new ways of seeing and thinking. I have a book that I use for prayer times throughout the day. It is called Thomas Merton A Book of Hours edited by Kathleen Deignan. This book is put together beautifully from his writings. This morning I was reading from the Tuesday/Dawn readings..."the lesson." I want to share this portion with you. Enjoy.
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 His 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 the 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 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 he reveals himself, obscurely in the mystery of each new situation.
WE do not know clearly beforehand what the result of this work will be. The secret of my full identity is hidden in Him. He alone can make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to be. But unless I desire this identity and work to find it with Him and in Him, the work will never be done. The way of doing it is a secret I can learn from no one else but Him. There is no way of attaining to the secret without faith. But contemplation is the greater and more precious gift, for it enables me to see and understand the work that He wants done.