One thing above all is important: the “return to the Father.”
The Son came into the world and died for us, rose and ascended to the Father; sent us his Spirit, that in him and with him we might return to the Father.
That we might pass clean out of the midst of all that is transitory and inconclusive: return to the Immense, the Primordial, the Source, the unknown, to him who loves and knows, to the Silent, to the Merciful, to the Holy, to him who is all.
To seek anything, to be concerned with anything but this is only madness and sickness, for this is the whole meaning and heart of all existence, and in this all the affairs of life, all the needs of the world and of men, take on their right significance: all point to the one great return to the Source.
All goals that are not ultimate, all ”ends of the line” that we can see and plan as “ends,” are simply absurd, because they do not even begin. The “return” is the end beyond all ends, and the beginning of beginnings.
To “return to the Father” is not to “go back” in time, to roll up the scroll of history, or to reverse anything. It is a going forward, a going beyond, for merely to retrace one’s steps would be a vanity on top of vanity, a renewal of the same absurdity in reverse.
Our destiny is to go on beyond everything, to leave everything, to press forward to the End and find in the End our Beginning, the ever-new Beginning that has no end.
To obey him on the way, in order to reach him in whom I have begun, who is the key and the end — because He is the beginning.
Thomas Merton, from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky in the USA. He wrote over 70 books, primarily on spirituality and social justice. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, was a best-seller that impacted the post-World War II generation and caused many veterans and students across America to enter monastic life.