The Old and the New

“For the “old man”—everything is old—he has seen everything or thinks he has. He has lost hope in anything new. What pleases him is the “old” he clings to, fearing to lose it, but certainly not happy with it. And so he keeps himself “old” and cannot change; he is not open to any newness. His life is stagnant and futile. …

For the “new man”—everything is new. Even the old is transfigured in the Holy Spirit and is always new. There is nothing to cling to, there is nothing to be hoped for in what is already past—it is nothing.

The new man is he who can find reality where it cannot be seen by the eyes of the flesh—where it is not yet—where it comes into being the moment he sees it. And would not be (at least for him) if he did not see it.

The new man lives in a world that is always being created, and renewed. He lives in this realm of renewal and creation. He lives in life.
The old man lives without life. He lives in Death, and clings to what has died precisely because he clings to it. And yet he is crazy for change, as if struggling with the bonds of death. His struggle is miserable, and cannot be a substitute for life.

Thought of these things after [holy] communion today, when I suddenly realized that I had, and for how long, deeply lost hope of “anything new.” How foolish when in fact the newness is there all the time.” [March 18, 1959]

Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Journals, Volume 3. Lawrence S. Cunningham, ed. San Francisco : Harper SanFrancisco, 1997: 268-269.

These thoughts came to me in an email today and they summarize much of what I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve lost hope of anything new. Maybe I’ve lost hope of any progress for peace in our world. Maybe it’s the melancholy of winter. Maybe it’s a post Christmas blues. There is newness all the time as Merton states. It is my lack of perspective and getting out of synch with living one day at a time and enjoying what is in this moment and not thinking about what might come or what might be.

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