I recently returned to New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. I bought it in a used book store in Gainesville a couple of years ago, and have periodically picked it up when I was in the mood. The book came highly recommended by Nichole Nordeman, whom I adore along with Sandra, Sarah and Norah in terms of piano songstresses (is that a word?). Since her last recommendation Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking On Water significantly contributed to my current views of faith and art, I figured I would give ‘ole Merton a shot, knowing next to nothing about the guy.

Since I started reading Merton several years ago, I began to notice how frequently he is quoted by other writers.

But the funny thing is that Merton himself says in the author’s note that “This is the kind of book that writes itself almost automatically in a monastery…That is why the book could have been written by any monk. It expresses the preoccupations that are more or less in the minds of all contemplatives—allowing for differences of temperament and personality…The book does not claim, either, to be a work of art. Practically anybody else with the same interests might possibly have written it better…”

I love the credence that Merton lends to the universality of the human experience of God. It may be shaded an infinite number of ways, but it’s still all part of the same gradient…

“Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.”


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