Monday Morning with Merton: One Prayer

“Now the whole problem of my life is the question – am I that same one who turned back sorrowing because he had many riches?  Will I irritate my Lord all my life, crying:  “Lord, am I still following Thee?” as if I didn’t know?

I learned one thing, at the Forty Hours at the Convent – two weeks ago tomorrow night.  I can have one prayer – to belong to Him, to be able to renounce the whole world and follow Him.  I say that prayer now:  when it pleases Him, He will show me what to do.  When – not next year, every next instant.  If I love Him I will hear.”  (February 19, 1941) 

[From:  Run to the Mountain.  The Journals of Thomas Merton.  Volume One, 1939-1941]

18 thoughts on “Monday Morning with Merton: One Prayer

  1. I would love to send this to everyone who has ticked me off. Would it help? How could it not? It is so honestly of love, and so lovingly of honesty.

    I love Merton. Not as in “this is so cool.” I love him– I know him. He showed us Jesus’ Thomas Merton, and in so doing, showed us Jesus. Do you feel that way?

    I will carry this up to bed with me. This is what we hunger for, isn’t it? This truth: If I love Him, I will hear.
    : – ) G’night.. and thank you.

  2. Well, I knew what “bon soir” meant — “Don’t forget to remove the rapidly-hidden-from-grandson chocolate from your bedclothes, lest you and your hair wake up less Casper-hued than usual,” but I had to Google the ‘dors bien.’ Ah, thank you. I did sleep well–so much so, that I woke late, to the odd oriental ring of a very nice telephone. : – ) Although, I cannot now find the chocolate.. That little Mertonface up there on Monday morns.. oh, what a face to see. Of indeterminate beauty — all hope, all love, all prayer about to burst into joy. What a face. There is something marvelous about Mondays, now.

  3. Oh, thank you, Gabrielle! I need to hear this over and over again – that “am I still following” question still pops up to haunt me, even after all these years… And yet, like Merton, I know it’s the one question I need never ask, really!

  4. Isn’t it funny how much and how varied are the means by which the Lord consoles and strengthens us? We usually think of the Comforter as a much grander Presence, but this solace, too, (surely?) is one of the ways Jesus meant it when He said He would not leave us orphans. Some people can kick a Merton to the curb, and others can keep him out of a Catechism’s pages, but Christ lived in Merton then, and lives in him, here, still. The Lord always has the last word on people.

  5. JustThisOldThing, as long as you didn’t smear chocolate all over the truth that you carried up to bed with you, all will be well. I’m so happy you think there is something marvelous about Mondays now; but if I don’t get a little time to myself, just about all we’re ever going to see is Monday Morning with Merton on this blog. 🙂

    Mike, you know what I really related to? “Will I irritate my Lord all my life?” My eternal question. 🙂

    Cathy, share away! Would love to hear a little bit about any ensuing discussion in your group.

    C.O., yes, well, that shame is on the heads of the editors, not on Merton’s, as we know. But I think of how he was refused by the Franciscans, and went on to find his true calling with the Trappists, and so too he has found his true place in all of our hearts, and in his true Home, and he is now beyond all cares of inclusion/exclusion.

  6. I like Merton’s honesty – renouncing the world isn’t going to be easy for any of us and ‘ the world’ can mean many different things as well as riches.
    The line you chose Gabrielle is also the one that I identified with so well.

  7. Ann, I guess the important thing too is the inclusion in our prayer, always, of our desire “to be able”, in all things. Help me, Lord, to be able, because I know I’m not there yet.

  8. “Will I irritate my Lord all my life, crying: ‘Lord, am I still following Thee?’ as if I didn’t know?”

    It’s like asking in your heart of your best friend, your mother, your spouse, or your Church, “Am I still with thee, for at times I seem light-years away.”

    But this WithThee is the most mysterious friendship, family, marriage, community of all to live, almost always. One doesn’t sigh through annoyances, or disagreements, or comings and goings, no way to measure by smile or gasp or birth, the sharing or non– for there is nothing physical, here, except for a short while at Mass. Even That just Is What It Is, which is not Full yet, and we accept it as if we knew we’d have to, if we wanted to give our God what He loves.

    In this WithThee, as one poet put it:
    sometimes, in the deep of winter
    when the wind wraps tight
    around the house
    and the night is soaked in
    heavy silence,
    I hear your Voice,
    soft in the distance
    touching lightly
    from snow-bent branch
    to icy limb
    where redwings and swallows
    flit on warmer days.

    and the night is friendlier,
    for that,
    the hearth ablaze
    with your
    Absence

    But of course we are following, we are still in the WithThee, if not comfortably yet, for we know (if we want to) that in the great cry He uttered, He declared there was no more I and you: “Here, now, is Us.” When we look up, we may see only in a mirror, dimly, our earthly, ever earthly; but Whom do we think is holding the mirror? We’d see only a receding glint of light amid the mountain.. or no mountain at all.. if we weren’t following.

  9. Thank you, JustMe, for this. It is inspiration, hope and comfort all wrapped up together for us. The poem is exquisite in its imagery and its spiritual metaphor. And you say we would only see a receding glint of light, or no mountain at all if we weren’t following. I wonder, would we even look up? It’s only by being open to grace that we even look up, I believe.

  10. Yes, it’s only being open to grace that we even look up, G.

    Ann is always one of the warmest breaths in the orchard. Like a half-penny sparrow, tho’, I am happy just to sing a Julian well-ness song now and then.

  11. Aye, Ann, but in a daily effort, I sometimes issue what sounds more like air trapped in old plumbing. Could there be anything more obscene than sparrowan duplicity?? Life is shocking enough without hearin’ a wee birdie groanin’ through its clenched beak from the branches of the lovely Evergreen.

  12. Maybe it has nothing to do with this, but the words “If I love Him I will hear” reminds me of Don Tonino Bello, when referring to the cry of the sick and suffering. He said “In your suffering, you are nailed to the back of the Cross, and a priveleged vantage point it is: all you have to do is cry out to Him: He can hear you – He isn’t far away- He’s right behind you.

    What enjoyable discourse has been going on here, ladies and gents. I’m just getting over jet lag (I’ve been seen with my head in the spaghetti bowl, or wide eyed and bushy tailed at 3 am these days, lol). Hopefully between cooking, cleaning, dispensing gifts I’d gotten while in the US, doing some overtime (at home) on a Sunday for work, I hope to get back to some serious blogging, or at least catching up with you all.

  13. Ann, JustMe: I love the imagery of poetry as birdsong! When I read all of your poems I hear your voices, personal, identifiable. Just as when we’re sitting outside on a summer morning, and someone will say, what’s that? and I’ll say, a cardinal, then they’ll say, what’s that? and I’ll answer, a wild canary… how do I know and they don’t? By listening, watching, giving attention over the span of many mornings and years, because of sheer gratitude for the birdsong and delight in it. Your poetry makes me feel the same way.

    Pia, that’s beautiful. It reminds me of why I love the song, “The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor” so much.

    Oh, the head-in-the-spaghetti-bowl kind of fatigue. Ugh. Hope you get back into your rhythm soon, Pia. It’s great to have you back. I was watching some yummy Tuscany (I think?) recipes on YouTube that I’m going to try soon, if I can find them again. Sigh. She made it look so easy!

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