Take No Thought for Your Life

One gets nearer to the heart of truth, which I suppose is the ultimate aim of the writer, in the measure that he ceases to struggle, in the measure that he abandons the will.

-- Henry Miller, The Wisdom the Heart

The discipline of writing has taught me this much: you must wait for the words to come to you and never chase after them.  This is a tough discipline, since words to a writer are like oxygen to a deep sea diver.  If the words are not there, your first impulse is to panic.  It goes against instinct to do nothing when every fiber of your being is screaming for action.  The words come when you have learned to wait out your fear, when you have learned to wait in calm expectation, like St. Francis waiting for the birds to alight in his hand.

The discipline of writing has also taught me to see that you must wait for life to come to you and never chase after it.  All that you truly need at this moment is here right now.  By this I do not mean that a ham sandwich will fall out of the sky just because you are hungry.  But much of the struggle we go through in life is really a struggle against our own fear.   We are often needlessly afraid that what we need in life won’t be there.  We become like the thirsty man in the desert who stumbles blindly past the oasis seeking the mirage shimmering on the horizon.

Take no thought for your life, Jesus said, what you shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  When I first truly grasped these words in college, I was flabbergasted.  I thought either they had to be true, or this guy was crazy; there was no middle ground.  I sensed they were true, which meant that everything I understood about life up to that point was wrong. 

Our instinct for survival recoils at the very thought that we should take no thought for our life.  This amounts to a frontal assault upon the foundations of self.  On the one hand, it means we no longer have to live in fear.  To live without fear is to die to the self.  We must choose, and the choice seems paradoxical.  It comes down this: in order to truly live we must die.    

Matt. 6: 25-34

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