M. Basil Pennington on the Search for God

“Among the Syrian Jews there is a series of stories about a very lovable old fellow by the name of Mullernestredon. One day this good man was seen busily searching in the village square, around the trees, under the carts, behind the trash cans. A sympathetic friend approached and asked if he had lost something. ‘Yes, my key,’ he answered. The friend joined in the search. After several fruitless and frustrating hours, the friend began to interrogate the old man: ‘Are you sure you lost your key here in the square? Where did you last see it?’ “On the table in my house,’ was the reply. ‘Then, why in the name of the heavens are you looking for it out here?’ ‘Because there is more light out here.’

“Like Mullernestredon, we often look for God in our thoughts and imaginings, our feelings and affections, because they seem to us more lightsome. But that is not where he is ultimately to be found. He is to be found in the depths of our being, at the center, at the ground of our being, perceived by the searching light of faith or the knowing embrace of love. All the feelings, thoughts, and images that float around in our prayer do not really put us in touch with him. There are ‘out in the square.’ He is within. And there we are so one with him that we are communion, union, prayer.”

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About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • http://dream_singer.livejournal.com/ dream_singer

    I love this story. Is Mullernestredon the same as the Sufi Nasrudin?

    • http://anamchara.com/ Carl McColman

      I don’t know, but I’ll ask , my Sufi-knowledgeable friend, next time I see him.

  • http://superbbluewren.livejournal.com/ superbbluewren

    I enjoyed the story – and the message that Pennington draws from it.