Friday, April 6, 2012

image of Christ crucified

 brush drawing by Thomas Merton
(image size 6 1/2" h x 4 1/4" w)

Notes from Roger Lipsey
“This perfectly grand image of the Crucifixion was found in a booklet, a kind of diary of drawings, as just one among ten or so brush drawings, the others of no special interest. Though monumental in “feel” and impact, it is factually a small print produced by inking and printing with the edge of an envelope or something of the kind. The method could hardly be simpler; the result could hardly be more majestic. This image recalls medieval carvings of the Crucifixion to which Merton was exposed as a boy in France, especially of the Romanesque period before the elaborations of Gothic art.
… this image of Christ Crucified draws together, remarkably, the values he most cared for as a contemporary artist and the values he most cared for as a monk …”


(Angelic Mistakes, The Art of Thomas Merton, by Roger Lipsey, p. 53)

from the darkness comes light

 brush drawing by Thomas Merton
(image size: 8 1/2" h x 5" w, on gray card)
The monk who is truly a man of prayer and who seriously faces the challenge of his vocation in all its depth is by that very fact exposed to existential dread. He experiences in himself the emptiness, the lack of authenticity, the quest for fidelity, the “lostness” of modern man. … The monk confronts his own humanity and that of his world at the deepest and most central point where the void seems to open out into black despair. The monk confronts this serious possibility, and rejects it … The option of absolute despair is turned into perfect hope by the pure and humble supplication of monastic prayer. The monk faces the worst, and discovers in it the hope of the best. From the darkness comes light. From death, life. From the abyss there comes, unaccountably, the mysterious gift of the Spirit sent by God to make all things new, to transform the created and redeemed world, and to re-establish all things in Christ. (The Climate of Monastic Prayer, p. 25)

Notes from Roger Lipsey:
“ … the Celtic cross reflects what Merton once called Zen Catholicism – a phrase borrowed from Dom Ailred Graham, a Benedictine abbot and author whom Merton admired. This is a magnificent rendering, uncanny but still comfortable and settled in its fusion of freely brushed Zen calligraphy with the unique design of the Irish medieval cross. Here is the Zen brush-drawn circle yet again, at home in an unexpected place. …”(Angelic Mistakes, The Art of Thomas Merton, by Roger Lipsey, pp. 48-49)