Saturday, June 14, 2014

Contemplative Master's Series - Thomas Merton

   Thomas Merton has been one of my great influences since the mid-1970's when I read The Seven Story Mountain.  It was a biography that influenced my own soul searching in many ways.

   Merton embraced his flaws and showed that all of us can make that journey...if not into an actual monastery, at least into the monastery of our heart.

   I can't understate the impact visiting his hermitage in April of 2013 had for me.  The man was no longer an abstraction and speaking with Brother Paul Quinon, who knew Merton as his novice master 50 years ago, breathed life into the legend. (You can read that post here...)

  The gate of heaven is everywhere.

   I think Merton can offer us a down-to-earth mysticism that is very appealing.  It is made more personally attractive for me because of his embracing of Eastern philosophies.  He saw them, as I do, as just another road to the mountain top.  Once there, we all have the same view.

There is in all things visible
a hidden wholeness.

    As I sat on the quiet porch of his hermitage, I could hear the birds singing.  I like to think they were the descendents of birds Merton listened to all those years ago on this very same porch.  I was overcome with a tremendous sense of peace.  Just at that moment, the wind chime hanging there tinkled softly and I smiled.  "Thank you, Father Louie," I said..."for all you still are to so many of us journeying souls."

   Next January will mark the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton's birth and there is a new film planned to commemorate it...The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton.  You can visit the link to see a brief introduction.  It is a film who's time has come...


   You may recognize the image above as the reflection I photographed in the sap house on Maple Sugar Sunday.  When I went to find an image to accompany this post and the Merton quotation on pilgrimage, it seemed the perfect one to me.  You can never tell where or when any particular image will shimmer for you.  That's why it is so important not to second guess your gut...photograph what draws you in and let the "whys" be answered later.


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