The past week or so has provided a perfect moment of synchronicity for me, and I just have to share it with you.
I was having an email conversation with a certain composer about motets he’s working on, and he mentioned that he was working on setting something to a Thomas Merton text.
Every time I hear the name Thomas Merton, I flash back to a memory of standing in front of a plaque at a historic site in New Harmony, Indiana, reading a quotation from Thomas Merton that took my breath away. No, that’s too cliched way of putting my response to the quotation.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re reading something, or listening to something, or you see something, and you can feel all your cells being rearranged? That’s what the moment of reading this Thomas Merton quotation in New Harmony, Indiana was like for me.
The problem now is that I don’t carry the actual quotation around in my head. But almost as soon as I assumed that I probably didn’t still have a copy of this cell-rearranging quotation, I remembered going through some files recently and seeing not the quotation itself but a letter I had received from someone thanking me for using it in a sermon I gave once, back in the mid-1990s.
As luck would have it, the sermon was stuffed into the same file folder as the letter. There, on the last page, was this:
“As long as we are on the earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with another because this love is the re-setting of a body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them. There are two things we can do about the pain of disunion with others. We can love or we can hate. Hatred recoils from the sacrifice and sorrow that are the price of re-setting the bones. Hatred refuses the pain of reunion.” — Thomas Merton
Fast forward to this morning, when one of my Facebook friends who is a musician posted a link to a beautiful David Wilcox song I hadn’t heard before, Farthest Shore. Let me just pause here to say that I can’t imagine life without my musician friends. There are those who are music makers, those like me who are thirsty listeners, and then there are the ones who are lucky enough to be both. Group hug!
Ahem. So, since my brain is always swirling with ideas to write about here, after I listened to David Wilcox this morning, I thought, “Hey, I’ll write about something that ties into this song. Wonder if I can find a video of him singing it?” While I didn’t find a video of Wilcox singing “Farthest Shore,” I did find a video of him talking about religion, cells, and his wife’s broken leg. That took me back to the Merton quotation, and reminded me to share it with you.
The video is nine minutes long, and unfortunately he doesn’t sing, and unfortunately it ends before he finishes his thought, but if you have the time, read the Merton quotation, then watch this video, and marvel at the gift of synchronicity. I hope it makes your day even only a little bit more, oh, harmonious.