Saturday, October 20, 2012

Singing with the Strings

It took longer than I thought to complete The Sign of Jonas but I hit the finish line early this morning.  What a ride!  I would highly recommend the 1947 - 1952 journal of Fr. M. Louis Merton. 

We all know him best as Thomas Merton even though he was simply born as Tom to Owen and Ruth.  His religious name of Father M. Louis takes him back to 1250 and the only sainted King of France.  The M. puts him in alinement with every Trappist Monk (and a long line of religious vocations) who carry the same first name.  It is the eternal connection to Mary the mother of Jesus.  Father Mary Louis Merton,  Father Louie to his monastic friends, Thomas Merton to the publishing world.

The cross on his grave at the Abbey of Gethsemani simply says  Fr. Louis Merton  Died  Dec. 10, 1968. He rests at the foot of a large and beautiful cedar that stands below the ancient bell tower that calls the community to worship and prayer seven times each day.

Merton is well know as a contemporary mystic who focused on contemplative prayer.  His journal entries in The Sign of Jonas take him through his ordination as a priest, to his leadership as the Novice Master, and on to a wonderful reflection called Fire Watch, July 4, 1952.  Along the way, he speaks frequently about the nature of prayer.

On March 21, 1950 he shared an insight that continues to resonate in my mind.  Prayer comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is public, a part of the literary, or quiet, perhaps personal and private, maybe even formal and ritualized. But it is all flows from the heart of God through the activity of the Holy Spirit.

He says that the various types and styles of prayer represent the same Spirit of God playing different strings of the same instrument.  You are the instrument, the Holy Spirit is the musician, and the harmony of prayer that results is centered in God. 

Merton doesn't offer this invitation, but I will.  Make your music count!  Enter into the concert of human desire as often as possible.  The harmony of your heart will create the symphony of creation.

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