What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. — Thomas Merton
I'm jealous of Merton's ability to sum up his way of life in three lean sentences, fifteen spare words. I'm teaching a course this fall on the contemplative traditions in the West. The desert fathers and mothers, Rabia and Rumi, Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas Merton and Madeleine Delbrel.
It means I'm teaching out of both sides of my brain this semester: a humanist in the morning, a quantum mechanic in the afternoon, and in all likelihood, a puddle on the floor by evening.
It's giving me an identity crisis. The course is framed around space: the desert, the monastic enclosure, the world. I realized this afternoon that my usual way of organizing my identity (identities?) is precisely by space and less by time. At home, I'm a writer, principally a Catholic writer. At the college, I'm a scientist. Now what I write about so often — the desert fathers, Ignatius, Merton — has leaked into my classroom. I feel a bit as if I've put my own body on the dissecting table, lecturing away as my class peels off my skin and peers at my heart and my lungs.
Sketch is from Thomas Merton's journals in Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings