Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Sign of Jonas

Over the past 15 years, I have been reading Thomas Merton's book, The Sign of Jonas off and on. It contains excerpts of his journal from his first years in the monastery between 1946 and 1952. Because it reminds me so much of the introspective beatings I used to give myself during my own years of formation at Saint John's Seminary in Brighton, I can only make my way so far into it before having to put it aside. Last week, I pulled it off the shelf to give it another try and have found some gems within. This prayer, in particular, struck me for its candor and truth:

Take my life into Your hands, at last, and do whatever You want with it. I give myself to Your love and mean to keep on giving myself to Your love -- rejecting neither the hard things nor the pleasant things You have arranged for me. It is enough for me that You have glory. Everything You have planned is good. It is all love.

The way You have laid open before me is an easy way, compared with the hard way of my own will which leads back to Egypt, and to bricks without straw.

If you allow people to praise me, I shall not worry. If You let them blame me, I shall worry even less, but be glad. If You send me work I shall embrace it with joy and it will be rest to me because it is Your will. And if You send me rest, I will rest in You. Only save me from myself. Save me from my own, private, poisonous urge to change everything, to act without reason, to move for movement's sake, to unsettle everything You have ordained.

Let me rest in Your will and be silent. Then the light of Your joy will warm my life. Its fire will burn in my heart and shine for Your glory. This is what I live for. Amen, amen.

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