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Meister Eckhart, Heretic or Mystic

A single sentence penned by a German mystic in the early fourteenth century reached me, finally, this past week—via an email from one of my friends. Just read this:

If the only prayer you ever say in your
entire life is thank you,
it will be enough.

                          ~ Meister Eckhart

What will it be enough for, I have to ask. Enough for getting into heaven? Enough for communicating with God? Enough for a well lived life? Some of us have been taught that prayer is something we owe to God, a dutiful service. “Don’t forget to say your prayers” was said to us too many times when we were children.

And now along comes Meister Eckhart from the far past with this brief word about gratitude. I know that anything good can spark the sudden thankfulness: a reprieve from dying or from pain or the same for someone we love; the wonder of having someone to love, the sky, the summer rain, the moment unbidden when we see with our eyes and the earth is filled with God’s glory.

And what makes it a prayer? That it is addressed to Someone out there or Someone here within…almost never is it thought out, planned, agreed upon beforehand, read from a prayerbook, led by a worship leader. Instead it is a whisper from the deepest heart of us.

He was tried for heresy, this Meister Eckhart. As I read somewhere, the language of lovers is not the same as the language of the courtroom. Although he died before the verdict was returned, I have no doubt that his prayer turned out to be enough after all.