I am finishing Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain.
His call was ultimately to the monastic life. He became a Cistercian monk and led the way in contemplative life that has served as example for generations of believers following him. His writing has paved the way.
The simplicity of vocation isn’t about giving up everything and entering a monastery. Simple vocation, for Merton, was this:
“…in practice… there is only one vocation. Whether you teach or live in the cloister or nurse the sick, whether you are in religion or out of it, married or single, no matter who you are or what you are, you are called to the summit of perfection: you are called to a deep interior life perhaps even to mystical prayer, and to pass the fruits of your contemplation on to others. And if you cannot do so by word, then by example.”
This is our lack. We do not have interior lives any more. We live shallow, bumper sticker motto lives. We live in the world of 140 characters that shows the “depth” of our conviction. We think a hashtag can bring girls out of slavery in Nigeria.
We need the depth of interior life in our nation. If not the nation, then the church. We need a conviction of soul once again.
We don’t even need to ask God for it. He is willing to welcome us in. Our task is to cultivate that life. Thankfully, we don’t need to pack up and ship off to a monastery. All we need is to utilize the “off” switch in our lives.
“Off” to the noise of the world. “On” to the power of his presence.