Thomas Merton: Peace And The Cosmic Storms


That God doesn’t purposefully create our storms is, I hope, universally acknowledged. He isn’t the direct cause of our battles, our cancers, our enemies, our daily failures.

But that’s not to say that the unhealed wounds we too often bear don’t breathe into us moments of grace.

Touched as we are by any number of life’s travails, we often can’t help but feel moved, guided, even challenged. Sometimes, that movement leads only towards what we have come to know as despair. At other times, we may well find ourselves guided, at least for a time, onto safer and saner ground.

But on occasion, we may be able to get a brief glimpse of something more revealing, something less fleeting. It may come in the form of a gentle touch on the shoulder or a firm challenge to our soul – a touch and a challenge that might well ultimately transform our hurt into health, our sadness into joy, our stillness into life.

But these challenges won’t necessarily enter our lives quietly, not if it’s critical to wake us from our slumber:

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world – C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

While we cannot know for sure what master plans may ultimately be in store for us, or what specific steps we must embark upon in order to now heal and grow and change, there is perhaps something definitive that we may be able to sense.

If our hearts are open, our minds receptive, our trust and our faith measured as but a single mustard seed, we don’t need to wholly understand – or even know – all of the details; for we remain fully capable of working within and walking through each of those moments – at least long enough to seize the hidden riches to be found within them.

As Thomas Merton once asked in prayer:

Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace. But grant us above all to see that our ways are not necessarily your ways, that we cannot fully penetrate the mystery of your designs and that the very storm of power now raging on this earth reveals your hidden will and your inscrutable decision. Grant us to see your face in the lightning of this cosmic storm. [The Remainder Of The Peace Prayer Can Be Found, Among Other Places, Here and Here.]

As we, today, seem poised more and more to do battle in a world that is forgiving less and less, and, as frightening cosmic storms seem to rise up and surge everywhere around us, we can be reminded that there are good and practical and lasting alternatives than giving in to chaos and despair.

But we may well need, first, to recognize that the shouting we sometimes hear is not a terrifying condemnation, but rather a hearty and robust cheering on.


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