Not far from our home here in Louisville is Gethsemane, the monastery where the monk and spiritual teacher Fr. Thomas Merton spent his final years.
One day, a younger monk approached his mentor, frustrated at what seemed to him to be an impossible task of knowing or experiencing God.
“Experiencing God is such a struggle,” he confessed. “How may I?”
Merton responded: “How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.”
All my spiritual life, I’ve been told that we are “saved by grace through faith” but then told, “If you really want to know God…” and what followed then was dependent upon your tradition – for mine, it was, “Go to church, read your Bible every day, witness to others and, oh yes, don’t drink, cuss, smoke or chew!”
I failed at all of these things – except the church-going part. I did that weekly – several times a week, in fact – but that was due to the fact that my Dad was the “preacher.” I had no choice in the matter.
My point is, however, I did what my tradition said I had to do to be “RIGHT” with God. Being “right” with God is different, however, than to ripen with God.
I’m into “ripening” these days.
How do I do that?
I sit in the sun.
You do not get “right” with God. You are alright already.
You ripen with God. Again, there is no effort at this. No struggle.
Just give a little attention to every thought of God that comes to you. See what happens.
Every thought of God is like a ray of sunlight that comes to you, not because you asked for it or deserve it or seek it. Every ray of light is a gift from God.
So is every thought of God.
Just say “thank you,” if you feel you must “do” something.
The day will come when your whole life is one huge, continuous expression of gratitude.
So, instead of seeking to be “right” with God, why don’t you go sit in the sun?