So It Goes
Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many questions in the depths of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding. For every gain in deep certitude there is a corresponding growth of superficial ‘doubt.’ This doubt is by no means opposed to genuine faith, but it mercilessly examines and questions the spurious ‘faith’ of everyday life, the human faith which is nothing but the passive acceptance of conventional opinion.
– Thomas Merton, From New Seeds of Contemplation
Sharing hand-rolled cigarettes, Daniel and I considered the path of those who’ve walked from the realms of contemporary church culture like a salty insect shell they would find somewhat discomforting in making any attempt to return to their shoulders. Our stories include us in this demographic, and we consider the heavy weight of this world left behind, but not as though shoulders were made only for burdons or for looking back over. It is the gift of a contemplative soul to shed the conventional in its falsehoods but its burdon to recognize that the only homes to be found are those that embrace the broken. Contemplation that considers the honest shape of the shell shed and the new home will recognize the cracks and scrapes and holes of any home but will continue the mendings. Like a cigarette that just won’t stay lit, only a bit of fire will bring new life, and with it, new impending death. In such a repetition, I can hear Vonnegut‘s chorus: “So it goes..”