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
Guilty Bystander ~
Merton's sentence was:
To have to stand there watching.
The Guilty Bystander, abandoned,
Condemned to being there in our stead,
Bearing the weight they laid on him
Without seeking a way out
Or an answer — other than the Father,
Who was asking him now
To allow what faith he still had
To be destroyed on that pagan altar
And brought to Him, burnt:
A sacrifice Abraham even
Had been spared