Charles Ringma has been a constant companion through his books for several years. I've just finished Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton and have benefited greatly from this guys interpretation of Merton's thoughts and reflections. Periodically I'll post a particular insight that has been helpful to me.
"In our contemporary religious world many are the voices that trumpet the gospel of fullness. Fed by the narcissism of our culture, this gospel knows only the message of fulfilment. God's blessings are given to make us better, whole, integrated and empowered...
There is a flipside to the gospel of fullness. It is the gospel of emptiness...
Just as the spiritual life can't flourish without the smile of God's shalom, so it can not mature without the dark night of the soul. The bounteous muchness of God's Grace is to find its counterpoint in the blight of the desert wind.
Merton makes the point that 'unless we are grateful for our own existence, we do not know who we are , and we have not yet discovered what it really means to be and to live' Gratitude is the true posture of our relationship with God and to others. Gratitude helps us see life as a gift. It evokes celebration. And it empowers for service.
A life of gratitude is fuelled by a magic that helps us to walk the long journey up hills and down dales. Peaks and the deepest abyss cannot stop the one who lives gratefully out of the presence of God."
Ringma, C. R. (2003:52- 53). Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton: Reflections on Identity, Community and Transformative Action. London: Spck Publishing.