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Christ Weeps with Those Who Mourn — “For My Brother” by Thomas Merton

by Steve Krout
June 26, 2020

Jesus weeps over the child that lost their life to suicide.

Jesus weeps over another black body murdered in the street.

Jesus weeps over a grandparent that passed away from COVID-19.

Jesus weeps over the individual that died of an overdose.

Jesus weeps over a soldier lost in war.

He does not speak of numbers and statistics. He speaks of his beloved brothers and sisters. He speaks their names. He holds them in his most sacred heart.

Christ weeps with those that mourn the loss of a loved one. He gently speaks: “Beloved, in the night when you cannot sleep, I will wait with you for the morning. When you cannot eat, I will fast with you. We suffer together. I am the first love that holds you within my heart. I will never leave you. I am Hope. I am the Resurrection.”

For My Brother: Reported Missing in Action, 1943 by Thomas Merton

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep
My eyes are flowers for your tomb;
And if I cannot eat my bread,
My fasts shall live like willows where you died.
If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,
My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveller.

Where, in what desolate and smokey country,
Lies your poor body, lost and dead?
And in what landscape of disaster
Has your unhappy spirit lost its road?

Come, in my labor find a resting place
And in my sorrows lay your head,
Or rather take my life and blood
And buy yourself a better bed
Or take my breath and take my death
And buy yourself a better rest.

When all the men of war are shot
And flags have fallen into dust,
Your cross and mine shall tell men still
Christ died on each, for both of us.

For in the wreckage of your April Christ lies slain,
And Christ weeps in the ruins of my spring:
The money of Whose tears shall fall
Into your weak and friendless hand,
And buy you back to your own land:
The silence of Whose tears shall fall
Like bells upon your alien tomb.
Hear them and come: they call you home.

Thomas Merton's Grave
Thomas Merton’s Grave at Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky

For My Brother first appears in Merton’s Thirty Poems (1944).

Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk, contemplative writer, and peace advocate who lived from 1915-1968. His writing and art calls us to slow down and contemplate the spiritual nature of everything around us. Merton often wrote about the cost of war, even when it was unpopular, and imagined a life centered in love.

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