Merton's Central Fear

"What runs and what ticks is,
however, no longer important.
What is important is that life itself
should be "lucid" in me (whoever I am).
I am nothing but the lucidity "in me."
To be opaque and dense with opinion,
with passion, with need,
with hate, with power,
is not to be there,
to be absent,
to nonexist.
The labor of convincing myself
that this nonexisting is a real presence:
this is the source of all falsity and suffering.
This is hell on earth,
and all hell in hell.
This is the hell I have to keep out of.
The price of keeping out of it
is that the moment I give in to any of it,
I feel the anguish of falsity.
But to extinguish the feeling of anguish,
in any way whatever short of straight lucidity,
is to favor ignorance and nonexistence.
This is my central fear
and defines my task in life."
-Thomas Merton

What is your central fear? What hides your heaven, what exposes your hell? Can you keep your heart open in your encounters with your hells?

1 comment:

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