Celebrating Thomas Merton

“… monastic prayer, especially meditation and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to us to draw us to himself. Dominus enim prope est.” [The Lord is close at hand.]

-Thomas Merton
January 31, 1915 to December 10, 1968

It seems to me that we are invited to make a big shift in the orientation of our spiritual life. I’m not sure if I this really applies to everyone or how it might show up for others, but I know it was a huge, huge moment for me. And I’ve seen it in many friends. I’m talking about the movement from follower and worshiper of the great exemplars and saints towards a fuller co-participation in the sacred mystery. It’s when we decide to change our focus from celebrating what yesterday’s exemplar’s have done to undertaking their journey ourselves. I experienced it as a movement from worship as focal point to personal practice as focal point. And I think that making this transition makes all the difference

And so, today, I celebrate one of the past exemplars of the more recent past, Thomas Merton. He passed away 45 years ago today and I still find inspiration in his words. He spoke beautifully about the human longing for God, for realization, and the fulfillment of that longing. We know from his journals and other sources, that he had many struggles. He was much like us in the challenges he faced, but he did not let that stop him from following his heart.

We may always be seekers, but with God’s grace, we may also become finders. Merton spoke of that sweetness, of the need to find the true self (as he called it) and the fruits of the spiritual journey. May we all have the good fortune to awaken fully!