Thomas Merton was a 20th-century Trappist monk and prolific writer on topics of spirituality and human solidarity. His books — particularly No Man is An Island and New Seeds of Contemplation — have helped me get through life. In particular, they helped make my life make sense in the middle of a pretty tough crisis. It’s really nice to be reassured when you’re losing your mind, and my debt to him is enormous.
He died of accidental electrocution on 10 December 1968 in his cottage in Thailand, where he was attending a conference for monastics. He had delivered his paper that very morning.
I will leave you with a well-known prayer that Merton wrote, a prayer that has greatly helped me and encourages me still today. May it help some of you as well.
MY LORD GOD, 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 that 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 this 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.
- from Thoughts in Solitude