There were ways to You she taught us, Ways we never knew about or thought possible: Like being a simple ball of no value, she said, that You "could play with, one You could throw on the ground toss about, pierce, leave in a corner or press to Your heart just as it might please You".
Americans can be all that the rest of the world sometimes accuses them of: brash, loud, insular, obsessive and heavy-handed. But America is great for a reason. It is looked up to, despite all the criticism, for a reason. There is a nobility in the American character that has been developed over the centuries, derived in part, no doubt, from the frontier spirit, from the waves of migration that form the stock, from the circumstance of independence, from the Civil war, from a myriad of historical facts and coincidences. But it is there.
That nobility isn't about being nicer, better or more successful than anyone else. It is a feeling about the country. It is a devotion to the American ideal that at a certain point transcends class, race, religion or upbringing. That ideal is about values: freedom, the rule of law, democracy. It is also about the way you achieve it: on merit, by your own efforts and hard work. but it is most of all that in striving for and protecting that ideal, you as an individual take second place to the interests of the nation as a whole. it is what makes its soldiers give their lives in sacrifice. It is what brings every variety of American, from the lowest to the highest, to their feet when "The Star Spangled Banner" is played. Of course the ideal is not always met—that is obvious. But it is always striven for.
Last night I had this funny dream: I was beside Merton in a choir stall and he was bent down low over a tape recorder and started to play a tape of a hundred children voices laughing lightheartedly. All the other monks started laughing, too. Merton looked up at me with a knavish smile on his face. Someone said: That's Merton again, up to another one of his tricks.
As if for a routine business meeting 15 high ranking Nazis met in this house to finalize plans for the "Endlösung", the deportation and extermination of all European Jews, the monstrous crime that anticipated the murder of 11 million human beings.