Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Blue, my friend and theological partner
Blue was reading a book.
After a few minutes of conversation with several other people, I approached my friend to ask how he was doing.
He opened the book he had been reading and pointed me to a particular paragraph and told me to read it. The content involved a moving analysis of faith and the mystical position of the believer in the life of Christ.
After reading the paragraph out loud, I turned to the cover to discover whose words I had read.
As seen in the photo here, Blue was reading the work of Thomas Merton.
Here's a portion of what Wikipedia has to say about Merton:
an Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. In 1949, he was ordained to the priesthood and given the name Father Louis.
Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism, as well as scores of essays and reviews, including his best-selling autobiography, The Seven Stormy Mountain (1948), which sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the US, and was also featured in National Review's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Merton has also been the subject of several biographies.
"Larry, if I'm sleeping on Billy's driveway," he said, pointing over toward the old service station next door where he beds down most nights, "I'm 'in Christ.' And if I'm under a tree, I'm 'in Christ.' And if you put me in a house, I'm 'in Christ.'"
He concluded, "I'm just Blue, 'in Christ.'"
Blue, my good buddy, sitting on a South Dallas sidewalk, reading Merton, lecturing me about the mystery of solitude and solidarity.
Reflecting on this amazing experience, it occurred to me that lots of people ask me if I share faith with the poor.
Share faith with the likes of Blue? Certainly, with most of the benefit coming back my way.
I live for the day that someone asks me if I ever share faith with bankers and venture capitalists.
When it comes to faith, I'm enrolled in a class taught by my friend, Blue.