I was up early this morning – too early. I was awakened by one of my “vocation dreams” where I imagine doing something new and different in my life and then wake myself up analyzing if it is possible.
Today, there was no going back to sleep, so I decided to look for a decent documentary on Netflix. It took some searching, but I found one called Merton: A Film Biography.
Thomas Merton was many things in his life. A little French boy of artistic parents, orphaned by age 15. A bright, yet carousing student at Cambridge, then Columbia. A Roman Catholic convert, received into the Cistercian order at the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky. A hard-working Trappist monk devoted to the contemplative life of prayer. A poet and philosopher who sought to bring healing to a desperately wounded society. A hermit who found in Buddhist writings and friendships companionship for a Christian walk. A spiritual pilgrim who bridged the distance between East and West.
There have been many things written by and about Thomas Merton. To dig deeper, I encourage you to visit the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University (I think I may take a pilgrimage myself there soon). For today, I simply want to share with you a few of Merton’s own words (and a prayer) to challenge and inspire you – as they have me.
Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything. (source unknown)
The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most. (from The Seven Storey Mountain)
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. (from Thoughts in Solitude)