Uninvited - Inspired by Thomas Merton


The rush to deport undocumented individuals and to refuse refugees reminded me of the following quote from Thomas Merton's essay, "The Time of the End is the Time of No Room", published in Raids on the Unspeakable (1966, New York, New Directions Publishing), on p. 72:

Into this world,
    this demented inn,
    in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all,
    Christ has come uninvited.
But because He cannot be at home in it,
    because He is out of place in it,
    His place is with those others
    for whom there is no room.
His place is with those who do not belong,
    who are rejected by power
    because they are regarded as weak,
    those who are discredited,
    who are denied the status of persons,
    who are tortured,
    and exterminated.
With those for whom there is no room,
    Christ is present in the world.
He is mysteriously present
    in those for whom there seems to be
    nothing but the world at its worst.
With these He conceals Himself,
    in these He hides Himself,
    for whom there is no room.

As I repeatedly reread it, this piece for Tenor, Bass, and accompanying Cello came to me.   I had a hunch for years that sometime I might set this passage to music; when the time came, I found myself listening to Merton's words for what music they seemed to suggest.

- Art Eschenlauer, Lent, 2017

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