Thoughts in Solitude - Thomas Merton

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” † † †
-Thoughts in Solitude
© Abbey of Gethsemani
"Your way of acting should be different from the world's way"...Rule of St. Benedict.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Greek Passion - presented by Dayle Geroski

In the remote mountains of northern Greece, there once lived a monk who had desired all of his life to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre—to walk three times around it, to kneel, and to return home a new person. Gradually through the years he had saved what money he could, begging in the vil­lages nearby, and finally, near the end of his life, had enough set aside to begin his trip. He opened the gates of the monas­tery and, staff in hand, set out with great anticipation on his way to Jerusalem.

But no sooner had he left the cloister than he encountered a man in rags, sad and bent to the ground, picking herbs. “Where are you going, Father?” the man asked. “To the Holy Sepulchre, brother. By God’s grace, I shall walk three times around it, kneel, and return home a different man from what I am.”

“How much money to do that do you have, Father?” in­quired the man. “Thirty pounds,” the monk answered. “Give me the thirty pounds,” said the beggar. “I have a wife and hungry children. Give me the money, walk three times around me, then kneel and go back into your monastery.”

The monk thought for a moment, scratching the ground with his staff, then took the thirty pounds from his sack, gave the whole of it to the poor man, walked three times around him, knelt, and went back through the gates of his monastery.

He returned home a new person, of course, having recog­nized that the beggar was Christ himself—not in some magi­cal place far away, but right outside his monastery door, mysteriously close. In abandoning his quest for the remote, the special, the somehow “magical,” the monk discovered a meaning far more profound in the ordinary experience close to home. All that he had given up came suddenly rushing back to him with a joy unforeseen.

To be surprised by grace is a gift to be prized.

Story by Nikos Kazantzakis, as cited in the book: The spirituality of imperfection: Storytelling and the search for meaning, by Ernst Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. Bantam Books.

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