upper room daily devotions

Monday, December 10, 2012

Remembering Thomas Merton (Jan 31, 1915-Dec10,1968)

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous...”
-Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton died two months after I was born and yet he has always seemed very near to me. When I first read his autobiography "The Seven Storey Mountain," my life was profoundly affected. I was seventeen years old, and this book left an indelible mark on my soul.

His was a voice of peace amidst war, a voice for the oppressed amidst tyranny, a voice of friendship in a divided world, a voice of raw honesty, a voice of struggle, a voice I could hear. His friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Dalai Lama fascinated me. That he was a Trappist who was a writer was an apparent contradiction that made me smile. His interest in technological advances, anthropology, and culture made him relevant for me in ways that the clearly religious and self-aware pious weren't. Thomas Merton profoundly affected me because he was acutely human. He was a holy man, to be sure, but he was a man.

I give thanks for his life and for how his writings and witness continue to influence other seventeen year olds, all of whom face their own mountains to scale.

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