|Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya|
Thomas Merton is one of the great influences in my life. Merton had wisdom. Wisdom, that thing Proverbs writes about, is rare. Among other things, wisdom is often prescient, prophetic. Like Merton was.
For example, in 1966, in Raids On the Unspeakable, Merton wrote: "We live in the time of no room,which is the time of the end. The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quantity, speed, number, price, power and acceleration. The primordial blessing, "increase and multiply," has suddenly become a hemorrhage of terror. We are numbered in billions, and massed together, marshaled, numbered, marched here and there, taxed, drilled, armed, worked to the point of insensibility, dazed by information, drugged by entertainment, surfeited with everything, nauseated with the human race and with ourselves." (70)
If that's how Merton saw things in 1966, would he even find words to express matters today?! Forty-seven years ago the spiritually decadent snowball was heading down the slope, gathering size and speed. Today it has fallen off the cliff and disappeared into the abyss.
For the few who are poised on the mountain of prayer and contemplation: you will be needed in the days ahead. Not many will recognize you. For some you will be a threat, for others a sign of hope and the way out of darkness. Even now there are people climbing out of the cultural shallows and longing for high ground. Stand firm, and they will come to you.
Needed: more deep people. More wise people.