|Thomas Merton, with the Dalai Lama|
The great author, peacemaker, mystic, Trappist monk, poet Thomas Merton was born in Prades, France 100 years ago today. Merton joined the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, on December 10, 1941. He lived exactly 27 years as a monk until his accidental death at a conference on monasticism in Bangkok, Thailand, dying on December 10, 1968.
|Merton by his hermitage, on Gethsemani grounds, where he lived the last years of his life|
Merton was the most amazingly prolific author. He wrote what might be the most important and famous autobiography in American history, The Seven-Storey Mountain. He wrote about monasticism, about war and peace; he wrote poetry and literary criticism. One of his great works is Raids on the Unspeakable, where he wrote essays on issues of war and peace, pacifism, non-violence, and militarism.
His life and ideas are fascinating--and remain fascinating to people throughout the world. His influence continues to grow. Today I saw a one-person play on Thomas Merton, 4th and Walnut, put on and performed by Jim Nagle. The play was performed at the Ursuline Motherhouse, adjacent to Ursuline College, in Pepper Pike, Ohio. What an incredible, beautiful performance! The title refers to a street corner in Louisville, Kentucky where Merton had a sudden insight--an overwhelming sense of compassion and love for everyday people, you might say the fruit of his vocation as monk.
|Merton's epiphany at 4th and Walnut, in Louisville|
Here is a joyous psalm that Thomas Merton wrote, almost in the tradition of Francis of Assisi: