Skip to content

Living Under the Bomb – Thomas Merton

May 4, 2023
A mural on a substation in the West End of Vancouver

Even though we are enjoying a wonderful vacation in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada there is always a reminder that the world with all of its hatred fueled by fear and the lies of those who would “whitewash” history. I am proud of Vancouver for being honest with its past and actually trying to make a difference as the province’s journey of repentance and reconciliation continues

…the culture of innovation, education, tolerance, and common human decency we strive for today. It wasn’t easy.

It wasn’t easy… the sort of change that we need to make in the US and in other countries around the world. As I write this, we are sitting in a Ukrainian restaurant… Ukraine, a country that some would have obliterated physically and spiritually. The people of Ukraine are a reminder to me that the change that ensures freedom from oppression and independence is not easy.

Restaurant on the corner of W Cordova and Carrall Streets

Yesterday’s reading from Thomas Merton’s journals (volume five, Dancing in the Water of Life) speaks to an earlier era where the same concerns that I have today, Merton had in May, 1965.

The hills are blue and hot. There is a brown, dusty field in the bottom of the valley. I hear a machine, a bird, a clock. The clouds are high and enormous. In them, the inevitable jet plane passes: this time probably full of fat passengers from Miami to Chicago, but presently it will be a plane with a bomb in it. I have seen the plane with the bomb in it fly low over me, and I have looked up out of the woods directly at the closed bay. Like everyone else, I live under the bomb. A Year with Thomas Merton: Daily Meditations from His Journals (Kindle, pages 182-183)

Yes, we still live under the bomb… only the bomb today isn’t always nuclear… it is the bomb of racism, of hatred, of fear, and the worshipping of guns. Lord knows it isn’t easy but we must try and we must succeed in making this world a world of peace and a world of justice grounded in the love of all without any “qualifiers.” As Merton said in a letter to Dorothy Day, Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.

  1. pynkoski2 permalink

    In the publised version (Hudson Review and also a small book with photos) of this entry, Day of a Stranger, he writes, “I have looked up out of the woods at the closed bay of the metal bird with a scientific egg in its breast! A womb easily and mechaically opened.”
    Terrifying! No wonder he is out of bed at 2:15 in the morning with the word “mercy” on his lips, and lights a candle. “There is now in the large darkeness a small room of radiance with psalms in it.”
    In the midst of destruction, a glimmer of hope. So desperately needed now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: