Seaside Reflections






Conversing With God By the Sea

There is an unspeakable secret: paradise is all around us and, and we do 
not understand. 
~Thomas Merton 


As Jesus was praying in solitude… 
~Luke 9:18 
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Preface 
I did not set out with the intention of writing this small collection of
reflections; they just seemed to come during my time of journaling. They
were written during my annual silent retreat by the sea in September 2011.
My inspirations for these reflections, other than Almighty God Himself,
were the prayers and poems of Thomas Merton and the beautiful backdrop
of the sea.

As I said, much of the inspiration for these reflections came from my
reading and prayerful meditation on the writings of Merton, but the
thoughts, prayers and sentiments are my own~ the fruit of that prayer and
meditation.

My sharing them, in a somewhat limited capacity for right now is to draw
those who do read them into their own conversations with God. After all,
that is what prayer truly is: conversation with our Creator.

I have included some quotes and short prayers by Thomas Merton in order
to give some background and depth to my own thoughts. The specific works
of his from which they were taken are cited at the end. I encourage you to
use that list as a source for further reading.

There is a Scripture verse before each reflection as a reminder that all
prayer, no matter what form it may take, is initiated by God.

Merton refers to “Le Point Vierge”, the virgin point. It is that place deep
within our souls, a point of nothingness untouched by sin and illusion; a
point of pure truth. This virgin point belongs to God and is at His disposal
in and for our lives.

I pray that as you read these reflections, they will draw you a little deeper
within to that place where God awaits you.

Enjoy this time of prayer and solitude. May God bless you abundantly.

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Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. ~John 14:23 

Remembering Who I Am
Maybe this is why I return to this quiet place by the sea. Maybe this is what
I want You to do for me during our time here; help me to remember who I
am~ more specifically, who I am in You. The person You created me to be
always seems clearer and more understandable away from the goings on of
the world. Out there it is too easy to get caught up in who I am in relation to
everyone and everything else. I need You to help me, always, through
prayer to stay who I am in You even in the day to day living of my life in the
world.

I need to stay with You and in You, the One who created me so as not to get
lost in what the world thinks I should be.

Draw me into Yourself and hold me there, do not let me leave, but if I
should stray lead me back to where You are.


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Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near. 
~Isaias 55:6 

Seeking God Perfectly 
My desire is to seek You perfectly always and in all things, but what does
this really mean?If I am to seek You, my Lord and God, perfectly I must
have a will that is always ready to “fold back within itself and to draw all
the powers of my soul down from its deepest center.”

To seek You perfectly is to rest in the silent expectancy and anticipation of
Your coming.

I need to stand poised and ready in tranquil and effortless concentration on that point of my
dependence on You. That point is my nothingness, for to be who You
created me to be, I need You for everything and in everything. With Your grace, I need to gather all
that I am, accept all that I can
possibly suffer, and all that I can
do or be, and give it all to You in complete abandonment. I need to do this,
in order to seek You perfectly, with a blind faith and complete trust in You,
my God. It is only when I am able to do this that I can honestly say that I
have sought You perfectly.
I beg You for the grace to do this, and then having received it, may I
cooperate with it in a state of complete love, humility and purity of heart.

*This reflection was written in response to and greatly influenced by Merton’s Kyrie for Saturday’s 
prayer at Day. The Kyrie is excerpted from his work New Seeds of Contemplation(44-46)1 


1 New Seeds of Contemplation 44-46 excerpted 

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To him that thirsteth, I will give of the fountain of the water of life, freely. ~Apocalypse 21:6 

Revelation of Le Point Vierge 
That point of silence, a sacred silence that is at the deepest part of our
being; it is what Thomas Merton refers to as Le Point Vierge (the virgin
point).

This virgin point is perhaps where the spring of Living Water, which You
spoke of in the Gospel originates. You are this Living Water. When I dive to
those depths, entering the sacred silence, I encounter You. It is there that
You invite me into prayerful contemplation and conversation with You. It
is there, like the woman You met at Jacob’s well (see John 4:1~30), that I
ask You for Your Living Water~ the only water that can quench my thirsty
soul.

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The Lord God is my strength: and he will make my feet like the feet of harts: and he the conqueror will lead 
me upon my high places singing psalms. ~ Habakkuk 3:19 

Traveling in God’s Strength 
I am afraid to know my own strength. It is easier to turn from the Source of
this strength and live in fear, guilt and shame. It is not better, but at times,
just easier. This strength is not my own, and perhaps that is what instills
the fear. The Source of this strength is You alone, my God~ the God and
Father who reveals Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, yet still remains
Mystery.

I am stronger than I think I am, stronger than I want to admit. To admit
this strength in me is to admit God in me, the God who I barely understand.

To be strong in Him whom I can never fully comprehend requires great
faith and trust. Yes Lord, I do believe but help me in my unbelief. Jesus, I
do trust You, but I need to trust You even more with everything I am and
have. I want to trust in all that You have told me in Your Gospels. I have
seen You at work in my life, and because I have seen You, I have seen the
Father who loves me because I love and believe in You.

I want to travel in Your strength~ in the grasp of Your Divine Love leading
me to live in Your Divine Life. Transform my life into Yours; may Your will
be mine. Then I will know that I travel in Your strength.

My Sweet Christ, You are my strength. May it be no longer I who live, but
You who live in me. (see Gal. 2:20)

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He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name's sake. 
~Psalm 22:3 

Awaken In My Soul 

“O Christ, my Sweet Savior, Eternal High Priest awaken in my soul.”2
Awaken in its depths in silent majesty. Run Your course in Your way in
Your time through the pathways of my soul.

With Your gentle strength tear down the obstacles I place there~ the
obstacles of fear, shame, mistrust, tepid love and weak faith~ all of which separate me from
You.
I know You will not do anything against my free will, or without my consent.
My desire id that my will be conformed to Yours. You have my consent to do
anything You wish in my soul so that it may appear before You clean and
unblemished.
You are my High Priest, my King and my Lord~ do with me what You will.
Awaken in my soul.

2 *Based on Monday’s Opening Verse at Dusk: A Book of Hours 
Opening Verse taken from Entering the Silence, 311 

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But the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God. ~1Peter 3:4 

Perfectly Hidden In God 

I know You as Father only because You call me by name, the name known
only to You in Your calling me Daughter. I am because You are. My identity,
my true self, is hidden perfectly and completely in You.

This is the secret we venerate in your saints. In their own lives, they were
profoundly aware of this truth and they lived their lives accordingly.

It is Your silence I share, Your silence in which I worship You. It is in this
shared silence where I receive and meet Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. It
is through Him, with Him and in Him that I am brought to You, the One I
dare to call Father.

When You call me by name, out of darkness and into the Light which is
Christ, You father are looking for Him in me. Your desire is to see His light,
His life reflected in me.

In this shared silence, You move and when You do, I also move. For it is in
You I live and move and have my being. (see Acts 17:28)

In the depths of this silence is my virgin point where I am who You created
me to be~ where my life, my identity is perfectly hidden in You.

In this may You always be glorified.

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He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. 
~John 16:14 


Receive Me 
“Receive Me”, I hear You say to me. Yes, when I come to you and you approach Me in
My Most Blessed Sacrament.

Receive me though at every moment. Receive My love, My peace, My truth
for these are the reflection of Me and My divine life in Your soul~ your soul
as I created it in my image and likeness.

Receive me into your very depths where I dwell in you and wait for you at
all times.

Receive Me knowing how infinite I Am and how finite you are. Receive Me
as I reveal Myself to you in My perfect Way and time.

By receiving Me in this way, you will be at peace and will always find rest in
Me.


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For you were as sheep going astray; but you are now converted to the shepherd and bishop of your souls. 
~1Peter 2:25 

Staying Found 
I was one of the flock who strayed~ a rebellious sheep who no longer listened to or recognized the Shepherd’s Voice. He called, begging me,warning me not to stray, but the louder He called, the farther I strayed until one day I could no longer hear Him.
But You, my Shepherd, knew the dangers which awaited me and so
You set out in search of Your rebel sheep. You found me stuck in the brambles, thorns and thicket of my
sins.
My Gentle Shepherd You loosened and freed me from those snares. You carried me, broken and bruised back to Your fold where You tended to and healed my wounds.
Your love sent You in search of me; Your love healed me.
Now Your voice is the only one I want to hear.
You found me and now all I want is to “stay found.”3

3 Entering the Silence: 199

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And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars… ~Apocalypse 12:1 

Our Smiling Mother 
As night falls and sleep will soon be here, I think of our Blessed Mother,
Queen of Heaven, watching over us her children.

I have often heard parents say how sweet and angelic their children look as
they lay sleeping. I think that maybe our Blessed Mother must often think
the same of us. I can almost hear her whisper, as she smiles, to the Father
and to Jesus: “Look how peaceful they are! No trouble to be made or had by
them, pure and seemingly sinless in this state.” This is the reason for her smile.

Then there are the times when I have been her child who could not or
would not sleep~ too troubled by the day just past. On those nights I go to
my Mother, taking her chain of roses in my hands, knowing this sweet and
gentle prayer will bring me to her where I will find comfort and rest under
the protection of her mantle. She smiles on these nights as well~ glad that I
have sought her comfort and protection.

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All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever. 
~Daniel 3:57 

Seaside Praises
Darkness just before the dawn, bless the Lord.
Waning moon and stars, bless the Lord.
Night creatures who soon will sleep, bless the Lord.
Rising seagulls in search of the day’s first meal, bless the Lord.
Pale sky of faintest color, bless the Lord.
Cool ocean breezes, bless the Lord.
Gentle ocean waves, bless the Lord.
Rising sun, bless the Lord.
All creatures on land and in the sea, bless the Lord.


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Closing Prayer 
Amen. Benediction, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, 
honour, and power, and strength to our God for ever and ever. 
Amen. 
~Rev. 7:12 

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Bibliography

Merton, T. (2007). Entering the Silence. In T. Merton, A Book of Hours (p. 147). Notre Dame: Sorin Books.


Merton, T. (2007). New Seeds of Contemplation. In T. Merton, A Book of Hours (p. 149). Notre Dame:
Sorin Books.
All Scripture verses: Douay~Rheims Bible Translation. Fitszwilliam, NH 2004






Comments

This is wonderful Karinann. Thank you.

God bless.
Colleen said…
So beautiful. I think you are a poet, Karinann. Really. Hugs and blessings.
Karinann said…
Thanks Victor and Colleen.
Colleen~I don't know about being a poet, but it is easy to write beautiful things when you have wonderful inspiration like Merton and the sea.
Colleen said…
Karinann, I agree. But still, it is a gift.
BTW - have you read any of Merton's journals? I really enjoy them.
Karinann said…
Thanks again Colleen~still working on the accepting compliments and acknowledging God's gifts thing :)I have Merton's Higher Ground of Love which is a book of his letters, on my Nook; I will have to put his journals on my to read list.