We all need a mentor. Someone we can trust who knows the path we are walking, who understands our struggles and who can help us find our way through the maze of life.
A mentor gives us hope when our thoughts and emotions are spiralling out of control. When we feel lost, or stuck, or don’t know what to do. When we lose faith and fear creeps over us.
Perhaps the archetypal mentor is Yoda, the small green person who guided Obi-Wan Kenobi and the young Luke Skywalker throughout the terrifying intergalactic battles at the core of the Star Wars movies. He opened their eyes and their minds to new ways of seeing, believing and doing, helping them to fulfil their full potential.
For most of us, our mentors are much more recognisable. They are the people we meet along the way through life – parents, teachers, friends.
And yet we do have access to a whole host of other mentors through their writing and speaking.
Thomas Merton was a Trappist (Benedictine) Monk who committed most of his adult life to silence, solitude and service. In his inner life he developed a deep knowledge and experience of his christian faith, while engaging fully in his outer life with the challenges of being human in this complex and unfair world. He wrote more than 50 books on spirituality and social justice, giving us the opportunity to benefit from his great mind. He died in 1968 and yet his writing continues to inspire, challenge and encourage us.
One of his prayers is particularly well known as a prayer that anyone can pray. It is commonly known simply as The Thomas Merton Prayer.
Read the prayer slowly. Take time for the words to move from your head to your heart.
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 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.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore 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 near me
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.
1915 – 1968
Reflect on the wisdom, faith and experience of the man who wrote these words. Imagine who God is for him. Listen to what he is thinking and believing and trusting.
And listen carefully for any words that speak directly into your life and your situation.
Thomas Merton’s prayer can become your prayer. It can guide you and give you hope as it has done for countless others before you.