How Do We Meet Our True Self?

As indicated earlier, our deepest freedom rests not in our freedom to do what we want to do but rather in our freedom to become who God wills us to be.
James Finley [1]

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Yes. We are free. We are free to do whatever we want. I can choose to get up tomorrow and do what I please. Let’s assume it is a Saturday and I do not have to work. I can choose to read or write. I can choose to enjoy a cup of coffee with my wife. I can decide to go to the gym. I can take a walk with my daughter. Or, I can watch my son ride his bike.

These are all choices. They seem like good choices. However, I would rather be free to become who God wills me to be. But, how does this work? How do I know that I do what God wills for me? How do I know if the choices I make each day allow me to become who God wills me to be?

I believe a contemplative practice can assist in this process. For me, this practice is centering prayer. There are other contemplative practices. Let me name a few: photography, prayer labyrinth, walking meditation, Christian meditation, painting, writing, to name a few. These are all practices when we “let go” and open to something bigger than us. We slow down. We do not focus on ourselves. We suddenly realize that we are not the center of the universe. The world does not revolve around us.

Something magical happens when we let go. Something magical happens when we slow down. We do not think about what we should say. We do not think about what we should do. We just sit with life. We just let things be. A new world opens to us. We might hear, see, smell, taste and or touch things we did not notice. A new path seems to open before us. We can feel God gently nudge us to take a few steps and see what happens. Where does this path lead?

I believe that as we walk down this new path our true self is revealed. Our true self is revealed because we took the time to let go and slow down. A daily contemplative practice teaches us both to “let go” and “slow down”. A daily contemplative practice can lead us to our true self. It is the self that God wants us to be.

Go Further:

Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God by James Finley

Merton’s Palace of Nowhere by James Finley

Thomas Merton’s Path to the Palace of Nowhere:  The Essential Guide to the Contemplative Teachings of Thomas Merton – Now James Finley, who for six years lived, prayed, and studied with Brother Louis, as Merton was known at the Abbey of Gethsemani, shares with us the gifts passed on to him by this towering figure.

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[1]. James Finley, Merton’s Palace Of Nowhere, (Ave Maria Press: 1978)


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