Merton books remain on best-seller lists not only in Christian circles, but also in airport bookstores. His vibrant awareness of the reality of Jesus Christ alive today, and his deep knowledge of the joys and sufferings of human experience in the twentieth century are perhaps unmatched in modern writing. If you are looking for an easy Merton starter try The Seven Storey Mountain.
Merton has strong Christchurch connections. While he never visited New Zealand himself, his father was a student at Christ’s College (until 1903) and his grandfather was music master at the school. You can find some Merton graves at Waimairi cemetery including that of Thomas’ grandfather Alfred, and Alfred’s daughter Agnes who died in the Wahine disaster.
A couple of Thomas Merton quotations:
What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”