If you have been on retreat at Spirit Center, our retreat facility, you may have noticed the rooms are named for famous mystics and monastics. Here is one of them…
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk, writer, mystic, and interfaith leader. He was also a poet and social activist devoted to non-violence — a value that for him was an expression of his faith. His life inspires many in how to live with creativity and unity in a world filled with violence and division.
For one who knew Thomas in his college days, it might have been hard to imagine that he had a vocation. He proudly proclaimed he believed “in nothing,” lived a partying lifestyle, and was careless with his resources. The first religious community he tried to join rejected him for his illicit past. Yet the call to a deeper beauty in God persisted. His biggest challenge was understanding that he was indeed fit to serve Christ. He began to feel drawn to visit churches and to tend to loved ones with prayer. Good books, wise teachers, and an increasing ability to listen through a greater commitment to prayer led him to finally take religious vows at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani in Kentucky. Here, he continued to develop as a writer, publishing many books of poetry and non-fiction, including The Seven Storey Mountain (1948), his autobiography.
Prayer from his book, Thoughts in Solitude:
“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 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.”