Traditionally, the value of the symbol is precisely in its apparent uselessness
as a means of simple communication. It is ordered toward communion,
not to communication. Because it is not an efficient mode of communicating
information, the symbol can achieve a higher purpose, beyond
cause and effect. Instead of establishing a new contact by a meeting of minds
in the sharing of news, the symbol tells nothing new:
it revives our awareness of what we already know,
and deepens our awareness. What is “new” in the symbol is the ever new
discovery of a new depth and a new actuality in what is and always has been.
The function of the symbol is to manifest a union that already exists
but is not fully realized. The symbol awakens awareness or restores it.
Therefore it does not aim at communication but at communion.
Communion is the awareness of participation in an ontological reality:
in the mystery of being, of human love, of redemptive mystery,
of contemplative truth,
~ Thomas Merton
from Merton’s Palace of Nowhere
by James Finley