Nothing Satisfies

Found myself with a rare free moment during the day. After a quick check on the internet for something, I found this little signpost for encouragement. It is a strange signpost, but one none the less. And the trick to remember with signposts is to follow where they point, not to collect them or stand around admiring their form or cleverness in design.

I do not know if I have found answers. When I first became a monk, yes, I was more sure of “answers.” But as I grow old in the monastic life and advance further into solitude, I become aware that I have only begun to seek the questions. And what are the questions? Can man make sense out of his existence? Can man honestly give his life meaning merely by adopting a certain set of explanations which pretend to tell him why the world began and where it will end, why there is evil and what is necessary for a good life? My brother, perhaps in my solitude I have become as it were an explorer for you, a searcher in realms which you are not able to visit … I have been summoned to explore a desert area of man’s heart in which explanations no longer suffice, and in which one learns that only experience counts. An arid, rocky, dark land of the soul, sometimes illuminated by strange fires which men fear and peopled by specters which men studiously avoid except in their nightmares. And in this area I have learned that one cannot truly know hope unless he has found out how like despair hope is.

— Thomas Merton, The Hidden Ground of Love [via]

I am, or at least think I am, in this desert. Oddly enough, part of me wants to be here because I know or sense that it will strip me of my conceptions, my things and objects of God—my God who is objectless. What will remain? My mind still searches for explanations, at times desperately seeking something to hold on to, but only finds dust or thin wisps of smoke. Nothing satisfies. Emotions crave feelings to feed upon and to foster the illusion of a reality, almost any reality, of some solidarity to grasp. But more nothing, no-thing. Nothing satisfies.

Merton says, “…in which one learns that only experience counts.” I wonder. Explanations are like concepts, objects of the mind. God is beyond objects, beyond things. The mind takes experience and makes memories out of them, forming objects out of them. They become things, things to hold on to, to use and to manipulate. Experience is collected like others objects. It is not experience I can depend. But what? What remains? Nothing satisfies.

Pure relationship is what I think I seek. There is no certitude. In relationship, there is no object, no I-It. There is only I-You. There is no object to stand on. There is nothing, no-thing. And in there lies the despair, and the hope. One leads to death, the other to life. Oh! the thin border between the two. Some how, nothing, or no-thing, must satisfy.

On the thin border,
between faith and doubt walks Christ,
calling all to trust.