Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a contemplative monk who spent 27 years inside the walls of a Trappist monastery in Kentucky. Only in his last year was he permitted to travel at any length. Even though he was never at Auschwitz this poetry places him there so as to let a generous sensitivity and tenacious faith like his respond to this horrendous calamity. Merton stands for all those who, in the light of Auschwitz, ask the question: where was God, and in so asking expose their belief to severe trial. Merton's struggle with this question was lived out elsewhere. Only the location has been shifted in the poetry that follows.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
She was fifteen when they dragged her
From a cellar window in Goettingen
Where she had spent
Three years in hiding.
She was not much to look at—
But she could love.
And now, in the line to the gas chamber
Her only thought was that of her Lover
Whom she knew was waiting
To engulf her in the heat of his love,
And while making her way to meet Him
She walked upright, bold and proud,
Longing to intensify the fire
Of His love with hers.
And Thomas, on seeing her face
Felt God closer here
Than in any other place.
Artist's conception of the poem