Monday Morning with Merton: Turn, Turn, Turn

“The high roofs of Strasbourg, Tauler’s city.  Streets known to Eckhart….

(Eckhart, in a sermon on the divine birth, says that, when a person is about to be struck by a thunderbolt, he turns unconsciously toward it.  When a tree is about to be struck, all the leaves turn toward the blow.  And one in whom the divine birth is to take place turns, without realizing, completely toward it.)”

[Thomas Merton:  Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pg. 187]


24 thoughts on “Monday Morning with Merton: Turn, Turn, Turn

  1. Sigh. St. Blog’s is doing some more work with WordPress, and my header has gone back to the original version of this template, and I can’t see any way to change it. So if you see a dizzying highway, my apologies. I can’t even look at it myself without feeling some nausea. Now, on to Merton…

  2. I see something that looks like a blue aurora borealis. Maybe it’s the time zone…or the effect of the wine I had last night..

  3. “And one in whom the divine birth is to take place turns, without realizing, completely toward it.” What a beautiful way to illustrate the word “yes” in regards to the reply of Mary to the Creator. It gives “life” to the Word! Thank you!

    (I’m back and tired but had to check in. Must be off to work, but I needed this today!!)

  4. As for your header, I get a different one each time (all but the highway one) by clicking on different post titles!

    As for the immensity of God’s power, it’s only surprising that He tempers it, yet less and less surprising that He lets a willing conceiver of the Divine birth temper it, hold back His arm.

    I’ve just realized why a sudden explosive crack of thunder–fiercely unmediated, making us look out front to see if a transformer has been hit, and the rumbling growling long after–could be found a comfort of some sort, “Don’t get too comfortable in what is now a blase world, My people–I Am still around!”

    “And one in whom the divine birth is to take place turns, without realizing, completely toward it”? Is it just because we haven’t all the context in this excerpt (it would’ve been understood Eckhart was referring to Mary throughout the sermon), or is he truly saying others conceive the Divine birth?

  5. Think so, C:

    “It is His will that Christ shall be born in every human being’s life …through the ordinary daily life and the human love that people give to one another”

    “We shall be asked to surrender all that we are, to the Sipirit of love in order that all our lives may bear Christ into the world – that is all that we shall be asked.”

    Caryll Houselander “The Reed of God”

  6. Yes, and/or as spoken by Francis to his Brothers–all of which, after consecration to the Sacred Heart via the Immaculate Heart, one sees anew, going from marveling to marveling, perhaps.

  7. Have to say I was a bit baffled by the last line – until I began to read the comments – I had thought of Mary as Cathy says, and then when I read what Pia says it not only reminded me of Caryll Houselander but also of the way one of our priests describes us receiving the Eucharist – we become like Mary because we too carry Jesus inside us and bring Him with us into the world.

    Though the turning as described in the excerpt would, I think, be attributable to Mary only – because that giving birth only took place once.

    Gabrielle, the header changed to blue once but the homepage colour is normal from here.

  8. Wow. How delightful to come home from work, prepare dinner, then sit down with a cup of tea and find all this!

    First, may I say hello and welcome to Jan! Jan, I’ve just been over to Mike’s, and am rather thunderstruck myself. If any of you have time to go and read Mike’s post of today, it is well worth it! He discovered that Jan and myself and one other blogger all posted on Meister Eckhart this morning, but from different angles, and he’s done a masterful and insightful job of pulling them all together. (I’ll come over and visit you too soon, Jan; I’ve enjoyed reading your comments at Mike’s).

    Laure, I believe you are the only one of us who saw the repentance aspect in this particular quote. So if I understand you correctly, you are reading this as a metanoia experience, a conversion of heart. That is very intriguing.

    Cathy, Carol, Pia, Ann, you all saw the Marian aspect of this, and Pia’s quotes from Houselander are perfect, as well as Ann’s comments re the Eucharist in Houselander and Carol’s bringing in the consecration aspect. But you know, while I can see the “turning” in Mary’s fiat, and of course Mary’s being responsible for forming or growing Christ within us, I’ve never felt any sense of “thunderstruck” or “lightning bolts” within the story of the birth of Jesus. It all seemed very gentle to me (for instance, the Holy Spirit “overshadowing” Mary). And I’ve always found Mary’s fiat itself to be a gentle, docile response to a loving Father rather than to a bolt of lightning-type God-power!

    I wish I were familiar with this sermon from Eckhart, but just from the little I’ve googled, I don’t get the feeling that the sermon was “Marian” per se. I may be mistaken, but from the little I’ve read, I believe it might be from his sermon on the Divine Birth of the Word (or the Logos) within the soul, and it is also concerned with God the Father begetting Christ. I’m not sure though; I really must read it.

  9. I think of God along the same lines as Annie Dillard, in some ways:
    “Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on
    a packaged tour of the Absolute?…Does anyone have the foggiest idea
    what sort of Power we so blandly invoke?…The churches are children
    playing on the floor with chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT
    to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats
    and velvet hats to church; we should be wearing crash helmets.
    Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should
    lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day
    (and) draw us out to where we can never return.” (from An Expedition to the Pole)

  10. 🙂 Yes. Oh I am not denying the awesome power of God! It’s just that I don’t get a sense of that awesome lightning-like power in the Annunciation per se; do you know what I mean?

    Your Annie Dillard quote reminds me of a little story one of our pastors once told us (it may be urban-legend, so perhaps you’ve heard it too). It was about someone explaining the Real Presence to a Muslim, and him responding with questions such as, “you mean you really believe that God is present in that host that you are consuming?” When answered yes, he was dumbfounded, but not because we believe it – because we believe it and are not flat on our faces in front of the Tabernacle or all during Mass.

  11. Pingback: Beyond the Horizon 3

  12. St. Blogs…just didn’t work for me. This I would find really frustrating. And yes, I see the vomit indusing green highway too.

    – – –
    If no one else here or at Pia’s had mentioned a connection in the last line to Mary the thought would never had dawned on me and now that it has, while I do think it could be said to be true of Mary also (be it done to me according to thy word) I don’t think either author was thinking of Mary at all.

    That Christ should be born in us and borne by us is the humbling, awe striking, devastatingly beautiful thing I think TM was pointing us too. ::thrive!

  13. I very much enjoyed reading the quote that Carol offered, by Annie Dillard….there were times (sometimes in church, and sometimes at communion,and sometimes just standing in a field) when all I could feel myself responding with tears, awestruck and amazed, humbled & grateful, that the God of heaven and earth would offer Himself to me as the supreme Sacrifice….and all I could think of was “turning towards Him”…would that I could respond like that more often, on every level, both consciously and unconsciously!

  14. Kristin, You’re certainly speaking for me in what you’ve said – those at once humbling yet awe-inspiring moments – are they little glimpses of what is to come?

  15. Surely they must be, Ann, as are those moments when He calls us short and extraordinarily shifty ones down from the observing tree and says, “I mean to dine with You today.” Little do we usually know how Seen we are, and (nonetheless!) how Desired.

  16. This reminds me of another Merton gem, about beein SEEN, Carol:

    “Those of whom God demands the most perfect hope must look closely at their sins. This is to say that they must let God shine His lamp suddenly upon the darkest corners of their souls-not that they themselves must search out what they do not understand. Too much searching conceals the thing we really ought to find. Nor is it certain that we have any urgent obbligation to FIND sin in ourselves. How much sin is kept hidden from us by God Himself, in His mercy? After which He hides it from Himself!” (Conjectures (that litte treasure trove!) page 23.

  17. Well, perhaps deep inventorying is why I can never see myself co-crowned and co-ruling with Him. Can’t imagine it in a million light-years, simply because of all my sin, tho’ whatever He says, goes.. but what a sweet thought– that in His mercy, He hides our sin from us, and then, from Himself. Sounds just like Him.

    🙂 Thanks for sharing that.

  18. I meant to add that overall, it seems far more crucial to think of how others may find Him than to think of our own crowns. I am already spoiled/pampered/coddled enough by the Throne, and can’t for a moment imagine being delighted while others are not. That’s also why I haven’t been back to my beloved Erin..there are others who are just dying to see her, and it would be gluttonous to go see her again before these have seen her at least once. So, hurry up, everyone–I’m dyin’ over here.

  19. Owen, I tend to agree with you, but I’d really have to read Eckhart’s sermon to be sure… And I’m sorry for any queasiness my header may have caused you!

    Kristin and Ann, just thinking about this “turning towards” – Mike at the Mercy Blog mentioned in his post about the electromagnetic fields (I think) causing the leaves to turn towards the lightning – and it made me think of our Divine Spark being magnetically drawn to turn towards the very Essence and Origin of our Divine Sparks… and Ann, maybe not just a glimpse of what is to come, but a glimpse of what is within…

    Pia and Carol – great quote, Pia, and will take some pondering on my part. And I was thinking, re what Carol was saying – why do we climb the tree, like that little fellow of so long ago – to look at our sins? No. Because we want to see our Savior…

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