A Word from Thomas Merton

This meditation comes from Father Thomas Merton in an edited book of his writings entitled, A Book of Hours.

“Lord, I have not lived like a contemplative. The first essential is missing. I only say I trust You. My actions prove that the one I trust is myself – and that I still afraid of you.

Take my life into Your hands, at last, and do whatever You want with it. I give myself to Your love and mean to keep on giving myself to Your love – rejecting neither the the hard things nor the pleasant things You have arranged for me. It is enough for me that You have glory. Everything You have planned is good. It is all love.

The way You have laid open before me is an easy way, compared with the hard way of my own will which leads back to Egypt, and to bricks without straw. If You allow people to praise me, I shall worry even less, but be glad. If You send me work I will embrace it with joy and it will be rest to me, because it is Your will. And if You send me rest, I will rest in You.

Only save me from myself. Save me from my own, private, poisonous urge to change everything, to act without reason, to move for movement’s sake, to unsettle everything You have ordained. Let me rest in Your will and be silent. Then the light of Your joy will warm my life. Its fire will burn in my heart and shine for Your glory. This is what I live for. Amen, amen.”*

A “contemplative” is someone who focuses on the mystical awareness of God through a life devoted to prayer. You don’t have to be a monk to be a contemplative. You just have to devote yourself to seeing the world and the circumstances around you through the eyes of God. Prayer is the lens through which you see the world as God does, but only in part.

The apostle Paul said it this way, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:12-13, NRSV)

You see, Paul was trying to tell us that faith, hope and love are the only lenses we get through which to glimpse God and the true workings of the world God so loves, but it’s only a glimpse. We cannot see or know with the fullness of God. Our humanness limits our capacity.

Merton gives us a piece. It is not the whole. It is an important piece, not meant to challenge or compete with any other glimpses of God, but to be added to the other pieces.

If you are looking at the world through any other lens, it is not of God. These false worldviews are what judge and try to denounce the glimpses of God from others, like Merton. The minute the defenses go up you know it is not of God.

The glimpses of God we get are meant to be pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of life. Part of the faith journey is trying to assemble them in order to get a fuller of understanding God. They add to our understanding not take away from it. Sometimes we struggle because the pieces we need to join it all together have not been found and added in. It’s not a matter of being wrong, just incomplete.

We pray, we deepen faith, hope, and love in order to add more pieces to our knowledge and understanding of God. That is what we (should) live for. Everything we have in life should be an instrument to draw us closer to God. Those instruments of life we acquire and accumulate that do not further our relationship with God and one another become more stumbling blocks than stepping stones. It doesn’t mean we have to get rid of them, we just need to acknowledge their proper place in our relationship with God and one another.

Acknowledging this reality is the essence of Merton’s meditation.

*Deignan, Kathleen, ed., Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, Sorin Books, Notre Dame, Indiana, 2007, pp. 97-98.

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