Who is more little, who is more poor than the helpless
who lies asleep in bed without awareness and without defense? Who is more
trusting than the he who must entrust himself each night to sleep? What is the
reward of his trust? Gentleness comes to him when he is most helpless and
awakens him, refreshed, beginning to be made whole. Love takes him by the hand,
and opens to him the doors to another life, a new day.


(But he who has defended himself, fought for himself in
sickness, planned for himself, guarded himself, love himself only and watched over
his own life all night, is killed at last by exhaustion. For him there is no
newness. Everything is old and stale.)


When the helpless one awakens strong at the voice of
mercy, it is as if Life his Sister, as if the Blessed Virgin (his own flesh,
his own sister), as if Nature made wise by God’s Art and Incarnation were to
stand over him and invite him with unutterable sweetness to awake and to live.


Thomas Merton