I am a less elegant writer than Merton. When my kids were young, I described all of this to my children this way: "When we are created, the Creator puts a bit of himself in us -- the Divine Spark -- think of one of those cartoons where the sun spits a ray of light somewhere. Imagine God spitting his light into us, ptooooie! For our whole lives, we have that inside us, and since it is the part of us that belongs to God, is made from God, we long all our lives to find our way back to God, to be reunited -- to be whole. We are like plugs looking for the main outlet to which we can attach ourselves, forever."

A lot of people have issues with Mary, and with Mariology in general, and with the doctrines of her Immaculate Conception and her Perpetual Virginity. I'm not here to debate it; as Bernadette Soubirous -- the visionary of Lourdes who, in a small way, validated the dogma -- once said to her inquisitors, "my job is not to convince, only to inform."

I'm simply inviting you to hold on -- if only for Advent -- to this idea of "something from nothing," and consider that (as the angel said) "with God, nothing is impossible."

If the moving atoms of the world cease to move, we cease to be -- talk about "something" from "nothing" and the world of illusions!

When I think of all of this -- how the whole theme of "something from nothing" permeates the world and our lives -- then I wonder . . . how is it that people of faith can find so much about which to be contentious? For the God who created "something from nothing," immaculate conceptions and virgin births are cakewalks! So, for that matter, is the changing of humble bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the One who said, "my Flesh is real food, my Blood is real drink . . . "

"With God, nothing is impossible . . ." That's true. But also, perhaps, "With God . . . ‘nothing' is literally ‘not possible.'"

With God, there is no nothing, for even "nothing" is filled with Intention. And intention  . . . assents. And assent . . . brings forth. It creates. And in every assent we utter, every stitch we knit, every empty bowl we fill, every lonely life we consent to touch, every hateful remark we respond to with love, we create something where there was nothing. With our every "yes," we assist in creation, with the continuation of the world. We work with the Creator, for whom no need is too small, for whom love knows no limits.

It is the great secret.