Day 05 – Forty Days with Thomas Merton

Day 05

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

— Thomas Merton in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, reprinted in Seeds


Consider how you spend your time each day. Consider what might improve if you were not succumb to doing too much? Ask God to show you if there’s anything in your life you need to drop or cut back in order to find the inner peace Merton is speaking of in this mediation. If God clearly speaks to you, pray for the courage to let it go.

+Ed Jansen, OSB

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3 Responses to Day 05 – Forty Days with Thomas Merton

  1. Barbara says:

    I feel this…lol. Sometimes it seems like I spend my day going from drama to drama. One person trying to feed me a story to make me say okay, while someone else whispers to me, no no that is not true… Clearly I feel like a target sometimes. But then I have to look at why does this person feel like they have to lie, or try to work around rules that they know are in place. When you look at those reasons, I wonder can this person be shown enough love that they will know that lying or stealing, or short cutting the rules are not necessary.

    My inner peace is not important to me at this point. To me I have a long way to go before I can worry about me and my peace. God is waiting for people to be helped, loved, and fed. I do understand Mr. Merton’s words…but I guess this is why I do not live a life of…solitude.

    • Bishop Ed says:

      Barb, there was a period of my life (I call it my “sevens era”) where I worked 7 days a week, 70 hours a week for a period of 7 years without taking one day off. I kid you not. Not one day off. My CPA came to me one day; he was concerned about me and suggested I take a vacation. At first I resisted the thought, then took his advice. I took a trip to the Austrian Alps and went skiing in the quaint town of Kitzbuehl. The weather was perfect, the skiing even better. I returned home, refreshed. I made a conscious choice to take a day off each week NO MATTER HOW MUCH WORK I THOUGHT I HAD WAITING FOR ME.

      Truth be told, I was more effective, I got more accomplished working 40-45 hours a week than I ever did working 70. From that point on I always took the time off. Someone once said, “How special do you think you are working without a rest? Even God rested on the Seventh day.” Hmmmm. Truth be told, God can accomplish more through you if you take some down time and spend it in his Sabbath rest, than you could ever accomplish yourself. Please believe me; I speak not from some high place, but from one who knows how important this message is of Fr. Merton’s.

      • Barbara says:

        Father I understand. But…..I do not do Saturday, or Sunday and only do 7hrs each day. Not even 40hrs. a week! I do rest on Sunday, as well as Saturday.

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