At the end of New Seeds, Merton closes with a thought I find particularly wise, peaceful, and therefore comforting. It is, at the same time, greatly challenging. This is the first part of it, and I plan to offer the second part (which I find to be quite lovely) next week, with a couple of additional comments.
The presence of God in His world as its Creator depends on no one but Him. His presence in the world as Man depends, in some measure, upon men. Not that we can do anything to change the mystery of the Incarnation in itself: but we are able to decide whether we ourselves, and that portion of the world which is ours, shall become aware of His presence, consecrated by it, and transfigured in its light.
We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real and which lives by a shadowy autonomy for the brief moment of earthly existence, and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists. It is this inner self that is taken up into the mystery of Christ, by His Love, by the Holy Spirit, so that in secret we live “in Christ.” — New Seeds, chapter 39