Friday, January 31, 2014

Prades France - Birthplace of Thomas Merton

A view of the house where Thomas Merton was born on January 31, 1915.  Prades France. Photo by Jim Forest.
Several years ago this sign was placed on the house where Merton was born.  Photo by Jim Forest
Sign on the street where the house is located.  Photo by Jim Forest
Another view of the house where Merton was born in Prades France.  Photo by Jim Forest.

I think of the young American woman, an artist herself, married to an artist from New Zealand and living in this house in southern France giving birth to her first child, a son.  This was 1915 - before cars, before airplanes, before radios etc.  How that young woman would never know what would become of this first-born son, yet all the love and expectation and wonder must have been there.

How quiet this place looks.  

HT: Jim Forest

A Certainty of Tread

[Re-post from January 31, 2007.]

This is a very fine commentary on Thomas Merton. From Bob Lax’s journal dated July 24/69 (less than a year after Merton’s death). Jan 31 is Merton's birthday.  Born in 1915, he would be 99 years old today.  Almost as old as my Aunt Louise who is coming to visit next week and will be 100 in July.
it must be one thing to imagine what a guru is like, another to see one. seeing merton was little enough like seeing an imaginary guru. 
yet he had one quality, particularly in the last years, but even (to a large degree) from always, from even before he (formally) became a catholic: a certainty of tread. 
that might sound as though he plonk plonk plonked like a german soldier as he walked down the street. actually, he didn’t: he danced (danced almost like fred astaire: bang bang bang; or bojangles robinson, tappety bam bam bam) but he knew where he was dancing. 
he did walk with joy. he walked explosively: bang bang bang. as though fireworks, small & they too, joyful, went off every time his heel hit the ground. 
this was true when he was still in college. it was true when he was just out of college, and it was true the last time I saw him bang bang banging down a long hallway at the monastery. he walked wth joy; knew where he was going. 
first time I noted how he walked was on fifth avenue, near the park, in spring (late afternoon, I guess) as he came from somewhere uptown to meet me. bang bang bang. & that time I thought about fred astaire. 
did merton & I make any resolutions as young men? one (& it wasn’t tacit) was to talk simply. merton certainly succeeded in that, & got a lot said in simple (not simplistic) language. 
after merton became a catholic, was living & teaching at st. bonaventure’s, and was being fed good soups by the nice german nuns there, he was more determined to write simply, and about simple things: things they could understand & that would help them in their lives.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

no plans at all ...

Found this on The Dish today.  Merton keeps on giving ...
“There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if he had no plans at all. 
There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have a meaning? 
There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill,” – Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Everybody stands on his [sic] own feet

This video shows the final few minutes of Thomas Merton's final talk, given to a meeting of men and women of various religious orders in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1968. The talk, from all accounts, went over like a lead balloon--Merton may have been speaking too academically for his listeners. After this talk, and after saying, "So I will disappear from view...and we can all have a Coke," Merton goes into his bedroom, takes a shower, comes out of the shower, slips, grabs and electric fan with faulty wiring, is electrocuted and dies.

I've seen this video before, only recently aware that it was on YouTube. Seems that it belongs on this louie blog.

I know that Merton was paranoid about being filmed here, the (Belgian?) camera crew focused only on him.

HT: Fr. Jim Martin

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Abby of Gethsemani in Prayer

A video of the community singing Terce …

The Good Shepherd’s commitments to us

Photo (by me) from the Basilica of Sts. Cosmos and Damian, Roma HT to John Predmore SJ for the following: I would like to talk about God’s ...