Early Morning Meditations from Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton

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)

(photo of Thomas Merton from Wesley Ramey in People I Admire)

12 thoughts on “Early Morning Meditations from Thomas Merton

  1. Wow! Love love LOVE that last quote from “Thoughts in Solitude”!! I just went and marked it “want to read” on Goodreads 🙂 As a matter of fact, I think I need to go print it and carry it around for a while…off to do that, now…

  2. Reblogged this on Teacher as Transformer and commented:
    Thomas Merton was ean interesting person. I love to read his work and think about what he had to say. Despite the fact he died in 1969, I find his thinking more timely today than it was when he wrote. The concept he discussed about the violence we do to ourselves in life through busyness and being now gets coverage, but it might have seemed out of place in his time. He was visionary and before his times. At the same time, he lived such a simple and traditional life. He lived the fullest paradox of life.

  3. Thomas Merton has long been one of my favorite writers, his insights into humanity are extraordinary and though based in religious ideology, transcend into the non-christian world as well. Thanks so much for sharing and reminding me that I have not picked up his books in a while. 🙂

  4. Despite being Jewish and an atheist, I find the first two quotes extremely profound (not surprisingly not the last one which seems to be a favorite of some). I know some about Merton, but I will definitely expand my knowledge and reading. Great post.

    • Thank you for dropping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment.

      I’m planning to visit “The Thomas Merton Center” next week and include regular reflections on his life and work in a series I’m planning to call “Musings on a Monday” (or something like that).

      By the way, you have a great Jewish name.

  5. It’s always a good time to dream and it’s never too late in our lives to contemplate a change of vocation. I do it all the time but after I’ve thought about it for a couple of days, it loses its novelty and appeal and I return to the status quo. These profound, uplifting words from Thomas Merton have touched me and, like other readers, I would like to read more of his work. So thanks for the introduction!

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