As the western world debates the question of climate change, the evidence of change in the form of more extreme weather is all around us. Tropical Storm Barry that hit New Orleans in July, the recent 7.1 earthquakes in Ridgecrest California, Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas and the Florida and North Carolina coast, and now almost certainly there will be significant flooding in Houston as the predicted rainfall today is 10-12 inches at worst and 6-8 inches at best.
Natural disasters have a way of bringing out the worst, and the very best, in humanity. It is bad enough that people have had their homes or business destroyed or severely damaged, but to find that after a mandatory evacuation order, some people deliberately stayed behind in the storm so that they could engage in looting just beggars’ belief! But, for all that, there are thousands of stories of goodness and kindness, of acts of bravery and a few hero’s that can help restore our belief in humanity. Natural disasters also have a way of awaking the spiritual in people as they turn to God before, during, and after such events. The prayers being offered are not well-crafted pieces of liturgy, but rather, a plea from the heart in a moment of fear or an expression of overwhelming joy at a time of rescue and relief. People find their emotions lead their words and they pray in very authentic ways.
I am often asked, “how should I pray,” or, “what should I pray Pastor Andrew?” I recall hearing an excellent interview with Fr. James Martin, he was speaking about Thomas Merton. Thomas Merton is one of those figures in modern life that has had a profound impact on so many Catholics and non-Catholics alike. James was working in finance when one day he came home and began watching a documentary about the Trappist monk on public television. Like many, Martin started out by reading Merton’s famous autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain. Inspired by his words and his imperfections, Martin joined the Jesuit order two years after that initial encounter.
In the broadcast Fr. Martin shared a part of Merton’s ‘Thoughts In Solitude,’ which he described as one of his very favorite passages of Merton’s writing. He described it as being a prayer everyone can pray. If you find prayer difficult then here is something to have for those times when your own words don’t come easily.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. 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 that 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 I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I 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.”
Shalom to you my friend,