Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thomas Merton's Prayer

This prayer by Thomas Merton speaks to me today. Does it speak to you as well? Do you feel Merton could have written this prayer on your behalf?  If so, feel free to share your comments.

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 that 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 will I 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, Thoughts in Solitude.

Before reading this prayer, I hadn't read or thought much about Thomas Merton for many years. In 1983 while a student at Notre Dame, I read his 1948 autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. It is still one of the most moving stories I have ever read.

I was instantly taken by this "writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion."

Merton wrote about his doubts as well as his certitudes. He did not pretend to have all the answers. While a devout Catholic, he showed respect for other religions and honored the common goal of connecting to the Divine through prayer and service.

"Merton wrote more than 70 books, mostly on spirituality, social justice and a quiet pacifism. Merton was a keen proponent of interfaith understanding. He pioneered dialogue with prominent Asian spiritual figures, including the Dalai Lama, the Japanese writer D.T. Suzuki, and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh." 

For more on Merton's biography, read this Wiki entry.

The prayer speaks to me because I, too, am struggling to keep up with life, to understand my purpose, and to see which obstacles in my path are meant to be overcome and which are meant to steer me in a new direction.