“We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.” – Thomas Merton.
I have to be honest and say that I have read very little of Thomas Merton. In fact, if I were really honest, besides the few times I have looked up quotes like the one mentioned above, and the few times I have heard his name mentioned in a sermon or a paper I had read, I haven’t really interacted with any of his writings. Today, I read this quote. I don’t know what to do with this quote because it seems simple enough but hard to believe.
I wonder what Thomas Merton is referring to here in this quote. Is he talking about world peace or the end of AIDS? Is he talking about racism, bigotry, hatred, or poverty? Or is he talking about stuff that is more personal – the selfish stuff that we continually ask God? Is our future wife or husband ‘just around the corner’ or is he perhaps talking about wealth?
In all honesty, I don’t think Merton is talking about any of that. As I said, I really have never interacted with Merton’s writing. I only know what I know through a couple of quotes like the one written above. Yet, I have a proposition that is perhaps, a better answer to the question of, “What is Merton talking about here?”
I think Merton is talking about hope. Hope is one of those things we overuse. Hope ultimately defines who we are as people. For most of us, we run after hope, trying to capture it like a butterfly in a net. Hope for some of us though seems more like trying to catch the wind in our hands than capturing a butterfly in a net. For some of us, we start off looking for hope, only to quit. We become frustrated. We become angry – with God and ourselves. It seems as though hope has found a way to run off without us, leaving us confused and hurt.
Merton’s words though are comforting to me. “We have what we seek, it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.” I think when I am tired of trying to make sense of live; I can trust that there is hope even when I can’t see it. All I have to do is give it time and it will make itself known. Hope to Merton is not a wishful fulfillment but an expectation of its arrival. Time is the only factor that separates me from hope. If I am willing to wait, time will give me the hope I so long for. It will allow me to see that hope exists and that I am able to go another day. I can have hope if I am patient enough to receive it.
I am learning to hope. I am learning to be patient. I am learning to lean on time’s shoulder and expect its arrival. For me, learning to hope is new and almost exciting. The more hope manifests itself; the more my faith will be tested and grown. I know love is the greatest thing that remains (1 Corinthians 13) but one of the three that remain is hope. Without hope, I am not sure we can do the faith thing well.
I hope we can learn to embrace hope. Hope is like a beautiful flower. The more we look at it and embrace it, the more beautiful it looks. And, when we learn to embrace hope, the results of faith, love, and truth look so much clearer and enjoyable. Let’s learn to embrace hope together. Cause, ‘it is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.’