A hidden music

“I SEE him standing in the forest, listening to the rain.” This was how the Benedictine writer David Steindl-Rast described his lasting memory of Trappist monk Thomas Merton on what would prove to be the final meeting between them in 1968.

 It is an observation that embodies almost everything that Merton taught about prayer, particularly during his last three years spent in the hermitage of Gethsemani monastery in rural Kentucky. Prayer, as Merton discovered, is something that ‘happens to us’ in all the ordinary events of life and living, rather than something ‘we do’ for ourselves.