- Thomas Merton
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton
In spit of various internet difficulties, I’ve been staying very grateful, and for that I am also very grateful. Think about it! If I’m mad at God about technology, like God cares or is even remotely responsible, what do I say when human difficulties come along? Difficulties such as cancer, alcoholism, gun violence, poverty?
Whatever the circumstance, Thomas Merton embraces gratitude.
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me to the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my struggles alone. Amen
“Prayer is freedom,” Thomas Merton writes. How refreshing! How freeing!
I found the following, quoted from Contemplation in a World of Action, in one of my favorite daily devotionals, Through the Year with Thomas Merton. The piece is too lengthy as a daily quote, and besides, abstracting a sentence or two detracts from its power. So here it is in its entirety as offered in the devotional.
Prayer is freedom and affirmation growing out of nothingness into love. Prayer is the flowering of our inmost freedom, in response to the Word of God. Prayer is not only dialogue with God: it is the communication of our freedom with his ultimate freedom, his infinite spirit. It is the elevation of our limited freedom into the infinite freedom of the divine spirit and the divine love. Prayer is the encounter of our freedom, with the all embracing charity, which knows no limit and knows no obstacle. Prayer is an emergence into this area of infinite freedom. Prayer, then, is not an abject procedure, though sometimes it may spring from our abjection. But prayer is not something that is meant to maintain us in servility and helplessness. We take stock of our own wretchedness at the beginning of prayer in order to rise beyond it and above it to infinite freedom and infinite creative love in God.
Tomorrow’s daily quote: “We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope.”
Every day I read, Through the Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Writings, and every day I restrain myself from quoting Merton again. This book was published in 1983, so of course it’s out of print. But, acting in pure hope, I checked AbeBooks.com and Amazon and yes, it’s available.
This July 9th quote spoke out to me. I really want to say that it shouted out to me, but that isn’t quite the image. No, it’s more like it glowed into me. I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hope is no naïve way of being; rather it is part of faith. When I hope through faith I am praying and when I am praying I feel free, free of my petty desires, free to trust in God.
Um, what I just wrote isn’t as easy as it sounds. My faith often gets shaky and I continually fall down, but hope assures me to keep searching for things not seen, things such as peace, love, God.
This morning, as I read this piece by Thomas Merton, I thought, “Ah, that is what I’ve been striving for; that is how I am feeling.” When God comes into our life, and, as the expression goes, takes over, it is a challenge to sort it all out, not to feel divided or immersed in a dualistic dance of life. This helped. See what it does for you.
A man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God, in whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of whom his own love for them can never know satiety.
Thomas Merton, in No Man Is an Island