A Lent Well Spent
I read these words written by Thomas Merton earlier this week, and I can’t get them out of my head. And since I’d rather share something beautiful than try and wrestle words of my own to be even half as profound, I’m going to share them here.
From No Man is a Island (1955):
“Why do we have to spend our lives striving to be something that we would never want to be, if only we knew what we wanted? Why do we waste our time doing things, which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just the opposite of what we were made for?
We cannot be ourselves unless we know ourselves. But self-knowledge is impossible when thoughtless and automatic activity keeps our souls in confusion. In order to know ourselves it is not necessary to cease all activity in order to think about ourselves. That would be useless, and would probably do most of us a great deal of harm.
But we have to cut down our activity to the point where we can think calmly and reasonably about our actions. We cannot begin to know ourselves until we can see the real reasons why we do the things we do, and we cannot be ourselves until our actions correspond to our intentions, and our intentions are appropriate to our own situation. But that is enough.
It is not necessary that we succeed in everything. A man can be perfect and still reap no fruit from his work, and it may happen that a man who is able to accomplish very little is much more of a person than another who seems to accomplish very much.”
As we enter into the season of Lent tomorrow, join me in reflecting on the lives we are living and the ways in which God is calling us to slow down. Lent is a gift. It’s a time for us to pause, reflect, and change direction if necessary. I hope these words hit your heart as much as they did mine.
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Jane Kennedy lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and works in criminal justice reform. When she’s not working or writing, she’s probably catching up with friends on FaceTime, getting lost in Rock Creek Park, quoting C.S. Lewis, or trying to recreate Salt and Straw ice cream at home.