action, contemplation, Contemplation in a World of Action, contemplative life, creative work, dedicated love, inner, inner discipline, integration, meditation, outer, positive attitude, prayer, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, Thomas Merton, work
Although there are many people now in our country whose work lives do not fit the traditional Monday through Friday schedule, the majority still head to work this morning, hopefully somewhat refreshed from the weekend. The challenge for many is to bring a positive attitude into the workplace. It sometimes takes conscious effort to put one’s best foot forward, so to speak, depending on the work itself, our fitness for it and the companions we encounter there. It helps if we can take God along on the bus or the highway, especially on Mondays, with the understanding that our spiritual/inner life is not separate from the outer/busy life in the world.
Thomas Merton wrote a book whose title I find an instructive and helpful reminder today. It is entitled Contemplation in a World of Action and still sits on the bookshelf to my left after 45 years. I found the rather lengthly paragraph that I want to share this morning quoted elsewhere but I believe it speaks well of a good attitude for this Monday morning.
When I speak of the contemplative life I do not mean the institutional cloistered life, the organized life of prayer. I am talking about a special dimension of inner discipline and experience, a certain integrity and fullness of personal development, which are not compatible with a purely external, alienated, busy-busy existence. This does not mean that they are incompatible with action, with creative work, with dedicated love. On the contrary, these all go together. A certain depth of disciplined experience is a necessary ground for fruitful action. Without a more profound human understanding derived from exploration of the inner ground of human existence, love will tend to be superficial and deceptive. Traditionally, the ideas of prayer, meditation and contemplation have been associated with this deepening of one’s personal life and this expansion of the capacity to understand and serve others. (Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, p.73)
Today, then, let us seek the integration of outer and inner, of work and intention, that we may lift up our “little corner of the world” in love.