Ramat Raziel, a moshav outside of Jerusalem and close to Moshav Kesalon, had a book swap. There were all sorts of books; children’s books, books on Jewish tradition, thought, and halachah, romance and classic novels, historical novellas, “how to’s”, and even the old and new versions of Gail Sheehy’s Passages. I felt no need to pick that one up; why read about the passages in women’s lives when I’m living them? Some books were old and some new, many had well worn pages with dog ears. After looking at all the books, several times, I found one that I decided to take.
The pages are practically burnt sienna, the cover is a well worn, faded tourquise, the price - only 25 cents, the copyright date – 1949. Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton now belongs to me. I think it’s no accident that the book was left untouched. In fact, always the faithful optimist, I see God’s providence hovering all over my acquisition. Souls need to be fed in abstract and concrete ways and, at different times. Right now, this book feeds my soul.
Merton writes, “Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them.” Ah hah, so, all that glitters is NOT gold as they say! Sometimes the glitter is nothing more than bits of scrap metal or tin foil not worth their weight in shekels. Why do we pick junk metal up that can be painful, itchy or scratchy, or worse yet, makes a scars our soul? Have we not eyes to discern the good from the bad, the divine from the profane?
Of course we do, we have the ability, wisdom, and gift of discernment with which God has endowed us. But before we can begin the process we’ve got to be willing to take a big old spoonful of humility. We do need to humble ourselves in a world that loves to boast.
Let’s face it, we don’t need so much in our nests. And for heaven’s sake we don’t need to hold on to the things that hurt us. With God’s help and in God’s name we can hold on to the things that nurture us and demonstrate God’s love for us. Merton’s book is one that I will hang on to for a very long time.