Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Words of Thomas Merton

“Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in a complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.” Thomas Merton

Your thoughts on this?

20 comments:

  1. I agree! Just what I have been feeling lately!

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  2. I quite enjoy all sorts of quotes - and this one really speaks to me. Thank you for sharing this quote - I am glad to read it.

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    1. Thank you, Amanda. I enjoy quotes like this, too.

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  3. I agree 100%! While I've certainly never enjoyed being on the edge of despair, it is an eye opening experience once you've worked through to the other side and found that God was with you all along.

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  4. I love what I've read of Merton. I'm conflicted about this quote because it hits a current OCD nerve (wrestling with how/if I should recognize my sin, etc). Thanks for posting. This is thought-provoking for me, in a good way.

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    1. I understand the struggle you are going through--that has been a common theme of my OCD.

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  5. I would agree with this quote for the most part. Certainly, much of my current life and point of view is informed by experiences of despair -- and I am grateful for all of it, because it has given my life richness and depth.

    That said, however, there's a bit of "all or nothing" thinking in this quote. I've seen too many people repeat mistakes and dramas in their lives over and over again, always drawing from despair and never transcending it. Despair can be a powerful tool for transformation, but it can also be an equally powerful tool for destruction.

    There is a middle ground between complacency and despair, where we can allow ourselves to heal and let our lives be joyful and touched by spirit, where we can seek -- and find -- God without needing despair to nudge us.

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    1. Nadine, You put into words what was bothering me about this quote--the all or nothing nature of it. I agree that despair can change us for the better but it is not always necessary for seeking God and peace.

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  6. I think there's no such thing as a life without problems!

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    1. I don't think there are such lives, either! Some problems are just more apparent than others.

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  7. I kind of agree with the quote Tina. It's just that I always think that my despair is absolutely nothing compared with what a lot of other people have to go through in this world. Even when the people who know me say I've been through quite a bit apart from the OCD and bipolar disorder.
    And how can you ask for mercy, if you, even in bad circumstances, feel like a spoilt little rich girl who still has food and clothes and a place to sleep?
    Guess living in Africa hasn't done me any good in that department. Even in my deepest depression I feel I have no right to complain.
    Don't know if other people with OCD have this too.

    God must love me a lot to have put me in the privileged place that I am. That in it's own is mercy for me already.

    (I hope I understood the quote in the right way, sometimes the English is a bit difficult!)

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    1. Klaaske, I, too, think I have nothing to complain about when I hear about/witness others going through so much more than I ever have. I am very grateful that I've never gone hungry and I've always had a roof over my head, along with many, many other blessings. Certainly I don't deserve these things any more than anyone else does.

      I think we all suffer in different ways, to different degrees, and we all need mercy. I guess knowing that we need mercy--that we all fall short in some way--is a valuable thing to recognize.

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    2. Tina, this is completely off topic, but I thought it such a nice story and seeing you love cats as well, I think you really will enjoy this story:
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2171782/Ada-fat-cat-saved-suicide-They-bond-doting-pet-owner-recognise--Celia-owes-life-love-stubborn-greedy-cat.html

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    3. Klaaske, That is a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I am going to look for more of that author's writing.

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  8. I find that when things are going swimmingly I do get complacent..and it is almost like I forget to rely on God. Boom..something happens and I am on my knees. It isn't that I only turn to God in my troubles but despair is a way for me to re-group and prioritize what is important, realize where my blessings lie, and lean on God and the people I love. Personally I think if nobody experienced despair, we may not lean on each other and have the compassion we do. I have often pondered..why do I have OCD? I think OCD is my despair and I have some life lesson to learn from living with it.

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    1. Krystal, You make such good points. I believe we can learn from our despair, too, and that it can make us more compassionate and empathic.

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