While my interest in wordy prayer has fallen over the years, believing that silence is always better than words, even if the words are not spoken aloud. I do this comfortably sitting, not in any unfriendly posture like a badly suffering earth worm or yoga enthusiast. I find that breathing in the first silence of dawn when the sun begins to make itself felt, when the preciously sonorous song of a very determined wren graces the earth with delight, I do at times come back to the prayer with which I have always felt mostly comfortable. Merton’s famous creation is from the early version of SEEDS Of CONTEMPLATION I believe. It has been around for well over 50 years but includes some words which I can no longer favor.
How about LORD? If you look up this sadly overused word, you will find that most of its definitions tend to an unflattering description of the individual described thereby. The word for me leads to visions of criminally insane masters of cruelly treated peasants and affords no visions of an Entity whose whole Being is love. I eschew this word and borrow a description from our Native Americans: Great Spirit. There are a few other changes. I feel much better with them and can use the prayer well. Sorry Fr. Louis but things have changed and I’ve had to also.
THE MERTON PRAYER 2013
Great Spirit, we have no idea where we are going. We do not see the road ahead of us.
We cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do we really know ourselves, and the
fact that we think we are following your will does not mean that we are actually doing so.
But we believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And we hope we have
that desire in all that we are doing. We hope that we will never do anything apart from
that desire. And we know that if we do this you will lead us by the right road though we
may know nothing about it. Therefore we will trust you always though we may seem to
be lost and in the shadow of death, we will try not to fear, for you are ever with us and
you will never leave us to face out perils alone.