Saturday, February 24, 2007

the monk is a bird who flies very fast

brush drawing by Thomas Merton, "Untitled"
(image size: 8 1/2" h x 8 1/2" w)
May 11, 1964. “The monk is a bird who flies very fast without knowing where he is going. And always arrives where he went, in peace, without knowing where he came from.” (“The Courage for Truth”, p. 198)

“I wish I had more charity. Perhaps I should say I wish I had at least a little charity. I wish I were less resentful of dead immobilism: the ponderous, inert, inhuman pressure of power bearing down on everyone to keep every beak from opening and every wing from moving. Authority sitting in its office, with all the windows open, trying to hold down, with both hands, all the important papers and briefs, all the bits of red tape, all the documents on all the members of the Body of Christ. I wish I could stop hoping the whole mess would blow away.” (“Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander”, p. 228)

“Elias becomes his own wild bird, with God in the center.” (“The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton”, p.245)

Notes from Roger Lipsey: “Fish are not the only species in Merton’s visual art and writings. … Not surprisingly, there are birds and birdlike signs in his art that compel attention. [This drawing] suggests a rush of activity, the headlong flight of an eagle – pure Merton in its energy and overall elegance. ...” (“Angelic Mistakes, The Art of Thomas Merton”, by Roger Lipsey, p. 45)


  1. Beth, not related to your posting, just thought it was an interesting article. Vatican Paper Condemns Death Penalty As
    Affront to Human Dignity
    A capital execution, it said, is "a clear offense against the inviolability of human life"

    Echoing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the paper recognized the obligation of governments to protect their citizens, but it also said that "today it truly is difficult to justify" using the death penalty when other means of protection, including life imprisonment for murderers, are possible. Citing appeals made by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for clemency for people condemned to die, the paper said the Vatican supported international campaigns to proclaim a universal moratorium on the use of capital punishment and the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.


  2. Thanks, John.
    It's good to know that the Pope is speaking out on the Death Penalty. We have a long, long way to go on issues of justice and punishment. The number of people in the USA spending their life in prison with no chance of ever getting out is staggering. Many of those people are NOT guilty of murder. And I know more than a few who were sentenced when they were just 14 years old. It seems that we just throw people away. Prisoners are the lepers of our time.

    I believe that Life in Prison should be reserved only for those people who cannot be rehabilitated and are truly criminally dangerous, and that would be probably less that 1% of those who are presently incarcerated.

    Prisons are big business in our country. And that really interferes with justice.


God speaks

God speaks, and God is to be heard, not only on Sinai, not only in my own heart, but in the voice of the stranger. — Thomas Merton, Emble...