There are precious few in every generation to whom the forces of transformation and awareness may credit their shifting and change. Women and men whose singular focus, ideological clarity and personal courage helped guide them to be the salmon spawning upstream. They inspired us to become who we already are, to shine more brightly, think more rigorously, love more passionately, die more readily.
For me and countless others, Thomas Merton was one such person. Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. Rather than offer biography, retrospective or ideological dialogue, I’ll let him speak in the language he knew best: prayer.
“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.”
Uncle Tom, for this and so much more, thank you.
Signed, a disciple