Friday, March 23, 2012
A Year With Thomas Merton - March 23
Prodigals Going Home
Yesterday afternoon, when Fr. Amadeus was preaching to us about the Holy Ghost in the infirmary chapel, Fr. George came bursting in, made the sign of "Thank you" three or four times, and departed. Last night he came down and wandered around the monastery.
Reverend Father, who used to be the infirmarian, says that sometimes, when they are near death, they get this urge to travel.
There was a Brother Mary up there who used to be the gatekeeper. He was dying. He had a wooden leg and a cane. He used to take his cane and go clumping around instead of staying in bed. They hid his wooden leg. He found it behind the door, and put it on and got going. They hid it again, in a closet where he couldn't find it. He lay in bed waving his hand and making signs, "The cane! The cane!"
There was another Brother who was dying. It was summer, very hot. He was in bed with very few clothes on. They found him walking out of the infirmary with nothing on him but a shirt. "Where are you going?" they asked him. "Nebraska!" he said. Nebraska is where he used to live.
I think I am beginning to understand something about the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke's Gospel--the lost sheep, the lost drachma, the Prodigal Son. Our dearest Lord is showing that He means everything about the fatted calf and the rejoicing to be taken literally, and that He means to pour out every kind of happiness in rivers upon those who ran away from His mercy but could not escape it.
March 15 and 21, 1949, II.292, 295