Merton (center) in Asia. 1968
His last talk was not easily digested by the listeners nor was it readily accepted by many. He told them that they needed to stand on their own two feet. To me this implies that one cannot depend on existing institutions but should make one’s way through life in the most personal way: with a one to one relation to the Great Spirit. His last words were prophetic: ‘I will now disappear’. He died shortly after this speech and the world lost an incredibly loving man and I feel I lost a great friend.
Check: “Thomas Merton’s Final Lecture” on You Tube.
1) Meister Eckhart: I pray God to rid me of God.
2) Thomas Merton: How I pray is to breathe.
3) FATHER’S AZTEC PRAYER
Oh only for so short a while you have loaned us to each other.
Because we take form in your act of drawing us,
And we take life in your painting us,
And we breath in your singing us.
But only for so short a while have you loaned us to each other.
4) THE ARAMAIC PRAYER OF JESUS (YESHUA) (The Our Father)
O Birther of the Cosmos, focus your light within us–make it useful
Create your reign of unity now
Your one desire then acts with ours,
As in all light,
So in all forms,
Grant us what we need each day in bread and insight:
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
As we release the strands we hold of other’s guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
The power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
From age to age it renews.
I affirm this with my whole being.
5) The following is one of Merton’s hilarious comments when you realize he was almost a Luddite. It describes a new farm machine all of which he found much too loud and really unnecessary. This is from his book CONJECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER and makes me at least smile every time I read it.
A new invention appears in the distant pasture, sliding down the hillside like an Ohio Riverboat or a Sol Steinberg drawing, driven by a brother in a white sun helmet. What is it? An atomic-powered gunboat? An agricultural pagoda? It seems to be made of aluminum–it shines brilliantly–it seems to have a paddle wheel in front, wherewith to persecute some aspect of unoffending nature. A great deal must go on inside. In every direction it has chimneys protruding. It can be heard for miles. It apparently chews the grass and spits it out in all directions. Nobody knows what for. It’s name: Behemoth. *
*Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966) 140 – 42
6) The following from THIS MUCH I KNOW IS TRUE by Wally Lamb, containing a summary of just about everything.
(From The central character.) I am not a smart man, particularly, but one day, at long last, I stumbled from the dark woods of my own, and my family’s, and my country’s past, holding in my hands these truths: that love grows from the rich loam of forgiveness; that mongrels make good dogs; that the evidence of God exists in the roundness of things.
This much, at least, I have figured out. I know this much is true.*
* Wally Lamb, I Know This Much Is True (Regan Books: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1998) pg. 897