In my last post I spoke of Thomas Merton's skill as a photographer and of his admonition to a friend, who was busily snapping photos of the woods in which they walked: "Stop looking and begin seeing."
He gave himself to others in the same way, approached them without expectation. He saw them. He did not try to interpret, alter, or improve them, but allowed them to be themselves. In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander he wrote of an experience he had during one of his first excursions outside the monastery into Louisville, KY. I love the final lines.
“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. This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . 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.”
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
Thomas Merton, besides being the revered spiritual writer who lofted the contemplative monastic life into public consciousness, was also a photographer. He photographed whatever crossed his path that drew him, he allowed each thing its own voice. While in the woods with a young photographer, he noted the speed with which the young man approached things. He told him to stop looking and to begin seeing. "Seeing is being open and receptive to what comes to the eyes; your vision total and not targeted." Song for Nobody, A memory Vision of Thomas Merton by Ron Seitz
Thursday, January 21, 2016
I've been away so long you might think I've fallen into Alice's rabbit hole. Unable to multi task, I've had to devote most of my time to working on The Glass Chrysalis. I hope this brief blog will renew my efforts to find room for God.
I read the following this morning and it moved me—presenting such a lovely synthesis of what it means to live in awareness. God has given us he power to see with "such intense clarity." We have only to take the time to really look.
“Tree scrutiny . . . I stand apart and look; looking I respect almost to the point of love. But what I hope to be loving is God; not because he ‘made’ the tree, but because he gives me the power to see it with such intensity and clarity.” -- Philip Toynbee “Part of a Journey”
Tree image by Prescott
- Beryl Singleton Bissell
- Beryl is the author of The Scent of God: A Memoir published by Counterpoint NY in 2006 and A View of the Lake published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. in 2001. She’s been living on Lake Superior for seventeen wonderful years, and spent 10 years writing two popular columns for the Cook County News Herald: Newcomer Notes and Putting Down Roots. Beryl is past president of the Schroeder Area Historical Society and a long-time chair of its Oral History and Marketing committees. She is a past board member of the Violence Prevention Center in Grand Marais and committee member for the Grand Marais Art Colony’s first ever annual North Shore Reader and Writers Festival. She’s been published in the Sun Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Lake Superior Magazine, and The Trenton Times and in the anthologies, Surviving Ophelia published by Perseus Publications in 2001 and The New Writer's Handbook, Vol. 2, published by Scarletta Press in 2008 and was named Best of Minnesota Writers by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She is currently working on her third memoir: the sequel to The Scent of God.