Saturday, February 21, 2009
Seeker or Pursuer?
In my blog-tag interview responses on 2/19/09, I answered the question below as follows -
Recently you have rediscovered Thomas Merton. What does this modern monk have to teach you that speaks to your life right now? Merton’s writings about living in and appreciating the present moment mean a great deal to me, particularly in light of his early and sudden death. He wasn’t waiting for a relationship with God, he wasn’t waiting for something to make him worship, or search, or find out who he was. He went after the gift of his life with a vengeance and gave himself over to his findings. He did not expect to die young, nor to be remembered as a theologian, he just went about what he felt was his purpose in life and when he was called sooner rather than later from his mortal life, he might have been surprised but I don’t believe he was unprepared. His lessons of just “being” are very comforting to me....
As many of you know, I'm away from home right now. In an e-mail regarding my spiritual formation group's activity this week, 3 words were quoted to me as words relevant to the rich discussion that took place in my absence. The words are "seeker or pursuer?" Upon reflection, I find these words so apt to the study of Merton's life and to the examples to his fellow Monks and laypersons.
At some point in Merton's young adulthood, he was definitely a seeker. He knew there was something more than just living life as a mortal being - aimlessly, without purpose. Although not raised in a church-going family, his parents apparently had Christian roots and pursued church and worship in some manner from time to time, Merton and his younger brother were never "schooled" in worship or religion. Yet, in young adulthood, Merton began to question God's existence and to seek God and what it meant to be a child of the Creator.
Although I have been using Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours, for prayer time the last six weeks or so, and have touched on Merton works and reflections in the past few weeks, I have just begun reading his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. In the first few chapters, it is clear to me that Merton was a "seeker" and yet, without jumping ahead in the autobiography, I also know enough about him from earlier study to state his philosophy (declared in my first paragraph above) was as one who sought and found God. I believe at some point, probably very clear to Merton himself, he left the role of seeker and took on the cloak of pursuer. He was not happy to sit on the sidelines and play with the niceness or fierceness of God's presence. He became the pursuer knowing full well that what he sought was present and waiting for his pursuit.
In my present life, this dominance of Merton's examples makes me ponder my own existence as seeker or pursuer. Have I passed the seeking stage? Perhaps. Am I more in the pursuing stage? I think so. I have long left the stage of needing to be convinced that there is a God. I seem to be in the stage of wanting to know God, to be more aware of God's presence in my life - more purposely, less accidentally.
So, how about you - seeker or pursuer and what does that mean to you - I'd love to hear from you.
Photo - SS - Maui sky - "Hymn at Dusk"