A number of years ago, I thought the much-loved passage from Isaiah made a nice match with Thomas Merton’s Prayer of Abandonment. On the day Thomas was received into eternal life, I thought it would be a timely reflection of both the monk and the season:
All: Fear not, for I am with you.
Men: But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Women: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.
Men: When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
Women: When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you.
Men: For I, the LORD, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.
Women: I give Egypt as ransom for you, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
Men: Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you,
Women: I give people in return for you and nations in exchange for your life.
All: Fear not, for I am with you. (Isaiah 43:1-5a)
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does, in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do
that You will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton)