Thomas Merton writes, “We have to learn the knack of free association, to let loose what is hidden in our depths, to expand rather than to condense prematurely.”
With these words, Merton invites us to dance between custom and nature, discipline and impulse, conscious and unconscious. He invites us to let the soul speak.
I often say that to do this dance, we need to take stock of the many episodes that have defined and shaped our life. These include ecstatic moments as well as painful moments that touched us deeply. These are the destiny signs that shaped our sense of the sacred and brought focus to our days.
And what better way to engage in this process than to write about it. I view writing as a process akin to gathering snow into a huge pile. As we delve into our unconscious and freely associate, we come across all the moments that shaped who we have become. We add each to the pile, and watch the pile grow. We see how each moment, each event, shaped our sense of the sacred. We see the sacred signature of each imprinted on our soul.
Having gone through this gathering process, we are free to take our accumulation of defining episodes and begin to design the contours of a narrative that we wish to unfold. As we design this new story, we punctuate each episode with reflection to clarify the purpose behind our words and thoughts. In this way, we expand and make shareable with the world the deeply personal process that allowed this articulation to happen.
(originally published July 28, 2016)