Thursday, July 30, 2020

if Thomas Merton could find his way and keep his faith and believe in the future, he, John Lewis could too ...

In a funeral eulogy delivered today in Atlanta, former President Clinton spoke of Lewis' humanity, strength and his unwavering belief in a future without racism. His eulogy included a reference to Thomas Merton:

Then, there was Bloody Sunday, he figured he might get arrested. And this is really important for all the rhapsodic things we believe about John Lewis, he had a really good mind and he was always trying to figure out how I can make the most out of every single moment. So he’s getting ready to march from Selma to Montgomery, he wants to get across the bridge. What do we remember? He cut quite a strange figure: He had a trench coat and a backpack. Now, young people probably think that’s no big deal but there weren’t that many backpacks back then. And you never saw anybody in a trench coat looking halfway dressed up with a backpack. But John put an apple, an orange, a toothbrush, toothpaste to take care of his body because he figured he would get arrested. And two books, one by Richard Hofstadter on America’s political tradition to feed his mind, and one, the autobiography of Thomas Merton, a Roman Catholic Trappist monk who was the son of itinerant artists making an astonishing personal transformation. What’s a young guy who’s about to get his brains beat out and planning on going to prison doing taking that? I think he figured that if Thomas Merton could find his way and keep his faith and believe in the future, he, John Lewis could too.


  1. Two wonderful photographs: one of courage, determination, and fellowship, the other, spreading petals of peace and hope, both of which help me to believe in the future during a difficult time.

  2. The photos of John Lewis, his life, and his funeral, are very powerful. They capture something that can only be carried by life. (I'm not sure "carried" is the right word). There was a photo of John Lewis with his letter to be read on the day of his funeral. It was of Lewis as an older man and you could see the statesmanship in his countenance, but you could also see his youth, his spirit, his joy -- almost the whole of his life. If you never read a word of what John Lewis said and did during his life, and just looked at the photos, I think you'd still know that you were seeing something revealing.


From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.