being and doing

30 March, 2009

I’m currently reading “No Man Is An Island” by Thomas Merton.

Here’s an expert from chapter 7…

We are warmed by fire, not by the smoke of the fire. We are carried over the sea by a ship, not by the wake of a ship. So too, what we are is to be sought in the invisible depths of our own being, not in our outward reflection in our own acts. We must find our real selves not in the froth stirred up by the impact of our being upon the beings around us, but in our own soul which is the principle of all our acts.

But my soul is hidden and invisible. I cannot see it directly, for it is hidden even from myself. Nor can I see my own eyes. They are too close to me for me to see them. They are not meant to see themselves. I know I have eyes when I see other things with them.

I can see my eyes in a mirror. My soul can also reflect itself in the mirror of its own activity. But what is seen in the mirror is only the reflection of who I am, not my true being. The mirror of words and actions only partly manifests my being.

The words and acts that proceed from myself and are accomplished outside myself are dead things compared with the hidden life from which they spring. These acts are transient and superficial. They are quickly gone, even though their effects may persist for a little while. But the soul itself remains. Much depends on how the soul sees itself in the mirror of its own activity.

It’s easy to allow the opinions of others, good and bad, to determine our our sense of worth, thus affecting the way we act, or ‘perform’ for those around us. It’s easy to fall into the trap of moving from the high of one compliment to another, however, it is a trap, and an unrelenting one that can dominate our true beings and before long, we find, that we don’t know who we really are without the cues of those around us.

The only real cure is in the understanding of our heavenly Father’s unrelenting love for us and finding our security in Him, rather than the voices around us that, let’s face it, are also looking to be affirmed. We can’t redeem one-another, because in this area, we’re all broken.

Learning to be rather than do-to-be is one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learnt.

Jesus is teaching me how to live loved and to love freely those around me.