I have gotten into the habit each morning of reading from the meditations of Father Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from Gethsemane, KY (I am sure he is a saint, just not yet declared so by the Church). The other day I read a short selection, “Holding Onto Nothing,” which has been haunting me ever since.
That phrase “Holding onto nothing” keeps replaying in my brain (kind of like a song you hear and then just can’t get it out of your brain). Questions: Are you holding onto nothing, Bert? (kind of sounds existential, and I guess it is) Bert, what are you holding onto that is nothing? Pride? Anger? Revenge? Hate? Lust? Jealousy? Possessions? Status? (What an awesome examination of conscience!)
This whole scenario has begun to get clearer since I am also reading from the reflections of St. Catherine of Siena (yes, I read a lot: I love to read.) Her writings are deep (I have to ask for her help as I read and try to comprehend), but exciting because she writes of her actual conversations with God.
This week I have been reading about what she calls The Bridge. According to St. Catherine, it spans between earth and heaven and is the only way to reach heaven. Access to The Bridge was blocked by the Sin of Adam but was restored by the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. She talks of Jesus guiding us along The Bridge which is long, tough, and sometimes downright scary, but with Grace guiding along the way; and the journey having an almost unbelievable, awesome, spectacular, glorious ending at the Gates of Heaven. Sadly, she says some people reject The Bridge. because they would rather play in the dark waters below which lead to doom.
Melding both these concepts brought me to this: If I want to access The Bridge and hold the hand of Jesus to cross it, I must let go of Holding onto Nothing. What is that main Nothing that I hold onto? What is that Nothing I hold onto (and will not let go of) that is impeding my progress across The Bridge? Pride? Anger? Revenge? Hate? Jealousy? Possessions? Status? Maybe something else? Why do I prefer to play in the dark waters below The Bridge where the end is doom when I can take the hand of Jesus where the end is Eternal Life in the Kingdom of God?
Think about it. Ponder on it, Meditate on it. May God be praised!
A Year with Thomas Merton
The Dialogue of the Seraphic Virgin Catherine of Siena