By Jennifer Murphy-Dye
Happy 100th Birthday, Thomas Merton!
Did you know that January 31, 2015, was Thomas Merton’s 100th birthday? Upwards of 130 people filled to overflowing the conference room at Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey to honor the memory of this holy and inspiring man on the anniversary of his birth.
|Rev. Brian Taylor|
Merton authored seventy books during his twenty years in the monastery, including compilations of his poetry. Brian drew upon these writings, interspersing biographical information with quotations from Merton’s autobiography, Seven Storey Mountain, along with verses from Merton’s books of poetry. The breadth of Merton’s writing is awe-inspiring, covering topics from contemplation, Eastern thought, and monastic life, to social issues like war and poverty.
Merton could be both serious and humorous simultaneously, Brian pointed out. He played an audio recording of Merton speaking about how many towels a person really needs (two!) and details about what to do with towels after taking a shower so as not to be wasteful – all as a prelude to a talk about monastic life. He also commented on America’s relationship with football: “Football is one of the really valid and deep American rituals. It has a religious seriousness which American religion can never achieve.” Always, Merton’s reflections are food for thought and discussion.
|Abbot Joel Garner|
As noon approached and the snow began to melt, Abbot Joel Garner, O.Praem., thanked everyone for joining in the celebration of Thomas Merton’s impact on so many people’s journeys of faith, past, present, and future.
(The author coordinates community outreach for the Ecumenical Institute foir Ministry in New Mexico. She was recently elected as chair of the board of the New Mexico Conference of Churches)..