I just finished watching a documentary I purchased today while visiting Abbey of the Genesee. Entitled “Soul Searching–The Journey of Thomas Merton,” it’s well worth your viewing time. Curiously the producers have left out Merton’s connection with St. Bonaventure University. Maybe they didn’t know or considered it inconsequential. It’s otherwise a very well done presentation of Merton’s journey. I hadn’t been to the monastery in nearly two months or maybe it seemed that way. I spent some time sitting quietly in the chapel. I always enjoy my visits here and today was no exception. I stopped in the bread store and purchased some cakes, a Monks Bread coffee mug for my daughter and the DVD.
The documentary gave me some more insights into Merton’s life. It helped me to see how much we had in common. I continue to be fascinated with Merton’s writing and the extraordinary insights he had. His work is as relevant today as it was forty years ago. His first book, Seven Storey Mountain, was not my initiation into the contemplative journey, but it was the first recognition for me that there was this dimension to my life. For Merton and for me there is the recognition that the contemplative life is more than simple piety. It is instead a connection to all that is human and because of that an obligation to react to those forces that are inhuman. Some may see this reaction as partisan or political but in fact it is not. It is instead deeply human and that is the fruit of contemplation.