by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
“My God, it is that gap and that distance which kill me.”
— Thomas Merton, Seven Storey Mountain, p421
I just came back from retreat. Three days at Conception Abbey. It wasn’t that great. I was befuddled, anxious, distracted. I hadn’t been on retreat since the end of March. See, this is what happens. I lost my rhythm. And to boot, preaching, two funerals, and going to China in a couple of weeks. Merton felt a gap between g-d and him. He craved constant connection with g-d – constant Presence.
Truthfully, all I live in is gap. It is the all-too-infrequent spark of the divine that snaps me to attention. But the sparks are few and far between… too far between.
The answer: flee, flee, flee. Flee to silence. Flee productivity. Flee. My hands got ahead of my heart and my mind. I stopped taking every thought captive to g-d. I settled in for Control of my universe. And I do so naturally – control is my default setting.
Flee inward to solitude. Stare down the false self. Cut deep. Go to the dark night and wrestle all night and walk away limping. But – also – get a new name: one who wrestles with g-d. Yes. Flee and wrestle. There is no other way. All else is just self-made sin management, meant to put me in control.
Close the gap. Flee. What other choice do we have?