The Art of Attentiveness, Part One

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.” So began Thomas Merton’s most famous prayer, now printed on countless cards that often end up taped to mirrors or refrigerators. His acknowledged ignorance in the prayer resonates deeply with anyone who reads it. As the prayer continues, Merton moves hopefully forward in his darkness.

“I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.”

So many things flash before my mind as I read the words of that prayer. I have no idea of God’s will for my life, but whatever it is, I know I’ve done many things that cannot possibly be in harmony with God’s will, countless little acts of selfishness, endless moments of unloving behavior. Mine has been a deeply flawed life, plagued by innumerable misdeeds.

Merton’s prayer goes on to say that if he continues to strive to do God’s will, no matter how often he fails, God will lead him down the right road, even if he knows nothing about it. Merton prays: “I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Oh what comfort I’ve taken from those honest words. But more than comfort, in the last few years, especially during one densely dark period of my life, I came to feel and know the truth of those words: I am never alone; God is always with me, no matter how dismal, no matter how hopeless any situation is. Thomas Merton knew that it was in darkness that we find the Light.

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1 Response to “The Art of Attentiveness, Part One”


  1. 1 krebsjoan September 7, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Thanks Gerry for uniting “attentiveness” and “I do not see the road ahead of me.” It give me great comfort.


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