Few religious scholars have been the subject of as much scrutiny and interpretation as Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, contemplative, social critic, ecumenist, and prolific author of The Seven Storey Mountain as well as 20+ other books. Even fewer have embodied the paradox of earthly devotion as fully as Merton, a man committed to a life of withdrawal from the world, of silence and solitude—who nonetheless spoke out about the abuses of power, civil rights, the environment, nuclear weapons and Vietnam. Fifty years after his death, he remains a surprisingly contemporary figure, addressing time and again the issues that matter to us and to our world.
This inspiring anthology allows Merton to speak for himself, offering both an introduction to his thought and an aid to private devotion, a signpost for our personal journeys of discernment and encounter. The Art of Thomas Merton brings together entries from Merton’s journals, extracts from his letters, quotations from his books and his countless articles, and lines from his poetry.
But what truly sets this collection apart is the inclusion of his abstract drawings, exercises in quiet reflection that convey something of the awareness through silence that he was always eager to explore. The drawings invite us to stop, and reflect, and surprise ourselves by new depths of awareness and understanding.
This is not a book to speed-read, to read for study or for the acquisition of knowledge. No, it demands for the words to be read, and the images gazed upon, in the manner of the practice of Lectio Divina, allowing God to speak to you by reading and looking attentively, peacefully, and reflectively until a word, phrase, or image strikes the imagination or the heart.
May you find in the words and drawings of this anthology something of the divine passion—God’s search for us and our search for God—that lay at the heart of Merton’s journey and of all that he had to say.