Sunday, September 18, 2011
A Year With Thomas Merton - September 12
Prayer to the Martyr of My French Hometown
Through the merits of thy martyr, O Lord, through thy martyr Saint Antonin in whose town I knew Thee, whose sanctuary I did not enter, though, as a child--through the great merit of thy ancient martyr, O Lord, bring me to the fullness of truth, to a great love and union with the truth, to a great fortitude with which to embrace and suffer reality, which is, in fact, my joy.
Thy martyr, O Christ, has a deep green river, and a limestone bridge of unequal arches, reflected in the water.
Thy martyr, O Christ, has cliffs and woods and, as I understand, he no longer has a train.
Sometimes, O Lord, I pray best to the saints and best of all to this one, O my Lord, this martyr who had a clarinet, a gramophone (I was reproved for putting my head in the horn). The people of thy town, O Lord! they have not changed. The Germans probably did not come. Wine barrels, berets, tabliers, l'accent du Midi, singing in the stinking dark streets, walking quietly, walking slowly.
Thy martyr's town, O Lord, walks at the pace of ox carts.
Some charitable, some uncharitable, all of the houses smell of the same kind of cooking and of rabbits stewed in wine. How could I forget the people of thy martyr, laughing at table?
Or the dark-skinned girl at the Hôtel L'Enfant who told me: "Arnold Bennett slept here."
September 2, 1956, III.79