Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Book of Hours

Some of you may have read my post references to a wonderful retreat that I attended the first week in Advent. The event was entitled - A Contemplative Art Retreat: Exploring Monastic Rhythms Through Art & Movement. It was an exhilarating event encompassing mind, body, and spirit. Through the adept leadership of Christine Valters Paintner, it was one of the most refreshing, mind and heart opening experiences that I've ever attended.

I bring the subject up again now as during the retreat there were many reading sources available to the attendants and on the first day I picked up a book entitled - Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours. During free time on the first day, I glanced through the small book, kept it as bedside reading for two nights but then feeling guilty at not sharing it with others, placed it back on the reading table. It seemed to rest there with no takers and then again, prior to the retreat conclusion, I took it to my room again. I was so moved by this book and decided that it would definitely make it on to my Christmas "wish list" as a "no brainer" idea for the adult children who swear they can never find a gift suitable for me. Well, as you would imagine, the ac weren't going for "wish lists" this year and no book was under the tree for me.

It wasn't exactly a hardship, of course, but everywhere I've turned in the last few weeks I've heard or read Merton's words speaking to me. So, surprise, you'll be happy to know that I have the book in my hands now and plan to savor it daily. Opening and slowly reading the cover intro, why was I not surprised to read these words from one of the collaborating authors, James Finley, who working with Kathleen Deignan edited Merton's writings into a Book of Hours format for daily use......

"You are holding in your hands a way to join Merton on the listening path. I sense Thomas Merton is somehow nearby, waiting in each thing he says to encourage you not to doubt all that God might achieve in you, all that God might express through you, as you surrender to God in silence."

I felt truly blessed upon reading this prayer for myself and I now offer to you readers the wish that you will
take personally Merton's prayer and encouragement through your day.

Joyous Sunday!


  1. I smiled when I read your words because I've done this with books so many times on retreats. The covetousness. The return to being community-spirited - but with a tinge of resentment. The continuing siren-song of "the book".
    I'm so glad you now have your hands on this one. Merton speaks to us all.

    I remember reading something very disparaging a very strict Christian said about him once - something along the lines of "Well of course you can't rely on what he says - towards the end of his life the man was no better than a Buddhist!" If ever there was someone who really needed to hear the spirit of Merton's words... (and to reconsider their view of Buddhism!!)

  2. Tess, I so agree with you that Christ does not always come "at" or "to" us in the ways we expect. It's so important to be aware of his words coming from those blessed voices we suspect or don't even bother to notice are his:)


  3. I've not read much of Merton, but your post has got me wanting to now. Thanks.

  4. i find merton to speak deeply to me and look forward to sharing more of him here with you!

  5. So glad you have your very own copy now SS. And can I quote you (literally!) about the retreat? :-) (I'm hoping to offer it again and include some blurbs from previous participants)

  6. Lisa, I highly recommend the Book of Prayers edition I spoke of in my post. I'm launching into "other" Merton reading as well as over the years he's a person that I never paid much attention to - he's begging for my attention now and his words are so uplifting and ring so true for me. Hope you'll read some of his work.

    Lucy, Oh, we discussed together that he's really speaking to us personally these days - very special.

    Christine - absolutely you may quote me, literally! I feel like a marketing team for your workshop already:) xoxo