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

Rabbi ~

On a bitter cold evening
In the long latrine
Of wooden holes
He heard someone
Intoning Shabbat chants softly,
Saw children moving
To where a wasted old rabbi sat,
And Thomas on seeing this
Came closer
Then sank to his knees
And bowed down low
In reverence
As if before a monstrance
And a host.

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