“I shall discover who I am and shall possess my true identity by losing myself in Him.”
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
This is my first Thomas Merton book. Richard Rohr said New Seeds is the finest treatment of the false self and the true self. So I decided it was time to dig deep, into a master writer and into myself.
This afternoon I slipped out of my office building, with just the book, a journal, and an apple in my bag. I walked a few blocks in breezy, splendid sunshine to Bartholdi Park, an overlooked garden near the Capitol. Tables with umbrellas dot the park, around the central fountain. I slunk into an empty chair, pulled it into the sun, and began to read. Two pages in, I was arrested by the quote above.
Lose yourself in order to find yourself. But really lose something. Let yourself be emptied out. Let die the false self you keep trading for what is actually love.
Now this is not something you do, or decide to do. This is not about will. It is about actually losing yourself in something — someone — who is other, wholly Other.
This city is about ambition and putting your best foot forward. But all of it is rubbish, compared to knowing the Other. And that’s the only way to know myself. I no longer live, but the Other lives in me. My life is hidden with him, secreted away in God. Whoever would lose their life for my sake, Jesus said, will find it, and keep it.
So I wondered…
- What must I empty in order to be filled?
- What must I lose in order to be found?
- What will it cost me to be more fully claimed by love?
I do not know the answers to the questions. There is no program or technique to apply. There is only an invitation to communion.