When a 10+ year old book comes into your life from two unrelated sources within the span of a week, it might be worth paying attention. That book for me this week was Parker Palmer’s A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life. I’m on page 14 so am barely worthy of commenting on it, but the title itself is a phrase I needed to be reminded of.
“A hidden wholeness” comes from Thomas Merton’s poem “Hagia Sophia”:
“There is in all things…a hidden wholeness. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a foundation of action and joy. It rises up in gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.”
Much of this past year has been diving deeper into the broken legacy of racial injustice. For those of us who don’t experience this on a daily basis, it is perhaps a hidden brokenness, something we can choose to examine or ignore. Examination raises a host of questions about personal and collective responses. And one can always dig deeper.
Palmer suggests that every outward journey of seeking to make the world more whole is incomplete if not accompanied by the inward journey toward the hidden wholeness of an undivided life. He writes that this is a journey beyond ethics and information. And it is not an ideal. “Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.”
This week I needed to be reminded that beneath the hidden (or not so hidden) brokenness, there is a hidden wholeness, “a silence that is a foundation of action and joy.” I needed those three words held together in the same sentence: silence…action…joy.