You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2012.

I’m busy preparing for Words Awake!  I’ll be on a poetry panel at 9:00 am, reading poetry at 3:15, and selling copies of Mansion of Memory all day at the Winston-Salem Writers booth.

Please join us.  It’s free.

They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt.”  Psalm 106:  21

Merton’s Voice:

If the salvation of society depends, in the long run, on the moral and spiritual health of individuals, the subject of contemplation becomes a vastly important one, since contemplation is one of the indications of spiritual maturity. …You cannot save the world merely with a system. You cannot have peace without charity. You cannot have social order without saints, mystics, and prophets.

Thomas Merton.  A Merton Reader, ed. by Thomas P.  McDonnell, (New York: Image Books, 1989): 375.


The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy.” Psalm 145: 8

Merton’s Voice:

Only mercy can liberate us from the madness of our determination to be consistent – from the awful pattern of lusts, greeds, angers and hatreds which mix us up together like a mass of dough and thrust us all together into the oven.

Thomas Merton.  Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions): 32



God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.” Psalm 46: 2

Merton’s Voice:

If we are called by God to holiness of life, and if holiness is beyond our natural power to achieve (which it certainly is) then it follows that God himself must give us the light, the strength, and the courage to fulfill the task he requires of us. He will certainly give us the grace we need. If we do not become saints it is because we do not avail ourselves of his gift.

Thomas Merton.  Life and Holiness (New York: Image): 16.


I will sing of your mercy forever, LORD proclaim your faithfulness through all ages.”  Psalm 89: 2

Merton’s Voice:

Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources.  If I trust You, everything else will become, for me, strength, health, and support. Everything will bring me to heaven. If I do not trust You, everything will be my destruction.

Thomas Merton.  Thoughts in Solitude. (New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux): 29-30.


There are many forms of poverty:  economic poverty, physical poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty, and spiritual poverty.  As long as we relate primarily to each other’s wealth, health, stability, intelligence, and soul strength, we cannot develop true community.  Community is not a talent show in which we dazzle the world with our combined gifts.  Community is the place where our poverty is acknowledged and accepted, not as something we have to learn to cope with as best as we can but as a true source of new life.

Living community in whatever form – family, parish, twelve-step program, or intentional community – challenges us to come together at the place of our poverty,  believing that there we can reveal our richness.

emphasis mine

“Sing for us a song of Zion!”  Psalm 137: 3

Merton’s Voice:

We must learn to respond not to this or that syllable, but to the whole song.

Thomas Merton.  Faith and Violence, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press: 1968): 118


From today until March 20, you can get the kindle version of Donna Walker-Nixon’s novel Canaan’s Oothoon for free. Sounds like a plan.

Synopsis of Canaan’s Oothoon:

A bad seed blows into Allard’s Crossing, Texas. Canaan Watson is beyond anything the women of this little town have seen. Brash and daring, he believes himself to be the reincarnation of poet William Blake and that he is destined to find his perfect mate – his Oothoon – to create his new world order. Cautious, but strangely attracted, some of the local women fall under his spell: Emma Mae, an elderly woman who wants nothing more than to talk to her deceased daughter through a medium; Lura, the Pentecostal woman who wants to feel the kind of love he offers; and Maria Elena, the vulnerable teenage granddaughter of Bonnie Hobbs. An ‘Oothoon’, according to Canaan, is the kind of woman who can cast off middle class propriety and give into her own sexuality but Bonnie Hobbs knows that’s just a load of manure he uses to cast his spell over the gullible and unwary.

Bonnie is one tough grandma and she’s seen the likes of this good-for-nothing Canaan before. When he shacks up with Lura, it’s proof to Bonnie that he’s worthless and not to be trusted, but Bonnie seems to be alone in her conviction. Soon her cousin Emma May gets sucked into Canaan’s lies when he leads her to believe that for an ongoing sum of money she can really communicate with her deceased daughter. As the women around her are slowly drawn into his web, Bonnie tries to protect her land, her friends and even her own granddaughter from his evil schemes but is it already too late?

Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged.  Instead of repairing them we say:  “Well, I don’t have time to fix it, I might as well throw it in the garbage can and buy a new one.”   Often we also treat people this way.  We say:  “Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, she is quite depressed; well, they have mismanaged their business…we’d better not take the risk of working with them.”  When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not.  The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak.

emphasis mine