In this diary-like memoir, composed of his most poignant and insightful journal entries, The Intimate Merton lays bare the steep ways of Thomas Merton's spiritual path. Culled from the seven volumes of his personal journals, this twenty nine year chronicle deepens and extends the story Thomas Merton recounted and made famous in The Seven Storey Mountain. This book is the spiritual autobiography of our century's most celebrated monk -- the wisdom gained from the personal experience of an enduring spiritual teacher. Here is Merton's account of his life's major challenges, his confrontations with monastic and church hierarchies, his interaction with religious traditions east and west, and his antiwar and civil-rights activities. In The Intimate Merton we engage a writer's art of "confession and witness" as he searches for a contemporary, authentic, and global spirituality.
Recounting Merton's earliest days in the monastery to his journey east to meet the Dalai Lama, The Intimate Merton captures the essence of what makes Thomas Merton's life journey so perennially relevant.
"A path through the woods" is the description Hart and Montaldo (Merton's last secretary and a Merton lecturer, respectively) give to this condensation of the diaries faithfully kept by Merton before and throughout his 27 years as a Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani monastery in Kentucky. "Woods" serves as metaphor for Merton's full body of autobiographical work, encompassing the journals published during his life and the seven volumes that remained unpublished for 25 years after his death in 1968. This manageable portrait of Merton's inner and outer life, beginning in 1939, is condensed from the seven volumes and will likely suffice for all but Merton scholars and the most devoted aficionados. Merton's restlessness, his frustration with censorship of his anti-war writings and his affinity for nature are portrayed here. Readers are privy to his dreams and his experiences of divine and human love, including details of his secretive love affair. The volume ends as abruptly as his life, cut short at age 53 by accidental electrocution in Bangkok, where he was exploring Asian religions. The path cleared by Hart and Montaldo, worthy guides to this terrain, is a boon for busy readers, who will turn to Merton's journals not only for information about his life but to learn, from his spiritual self-scrutiny, more about themselves.