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Searching for the Center

February 5, 2016

 

The Journey of the Soul leads deeper and deeper into the center of the traveller. Religious thinkers over the ages have described that center in many ways, with many images and metaphors. One of my favorite descriptions has always been 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal's which we find in Pensees VII(425). 

 

"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”

 

Commonly translated into 21st century language, Pascal suggests we all have a God shaped hole in our center, and only when that hole is filled will God can we be whole.

I would suggest that as pilgrims we are on an unending quest to fill that hole so God will touch that void and we will be complete. 

 

Today, two of our great 21st century religious thinkers offer ways of understanding that center. Note below words from Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr. 

 

 

~from a Thomas Merton Reader

"At the center of our being is a point which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.

 

 

~from Richard Rohr

"You do not find the Great Love except by finding your True Self along with it, and you cannot find your True Self without falling into the Great Love. As you fall, you will discover that the meaning of the universe, at its deepest and final level, is only 'mercy within mercy within mercy.'" [3

 

[3 Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas (Harcourt: 1953), 362.Adapted from Richard Rohr, "Today Is a Time for Mercy," December 10, 2015, https://cac.org/richard-rohr-on-mercy-mp3; and Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 184-185.]

 

 

When that Holy Center begins to rumble, you will know it. You will be touched deep into your core by a force greater than any you have ever known. And like the wise men when they visited the newborn Christ, you will go home by another way, and life will never be the same. 

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