I am not going to write as one driven by compulsions but freely, because I am a writer, because for me to write is to think and to live and also in some degree even to pray.
Now, I already know what you are thinking- a monk? How could that possibly be interesting? Well thank you for asking. This man started his life in Europe with no religious background. Before becoming a monk, he was an alcoholic, liscentious, communist, unhappy artist who could not find his way in the world. We read his autobiography and I was blown away. The story is written with such eloquence that you can literally see God's light invading this man's soul.
There were 17 students at the Abbey, and we became a sort of community. We ate our meals together, did kitchen clean up, went to Mass, walked in the fields. It was basically an English major's paradise. We read poetry, performed plays, and learned about the material. Our professor was Lynn Szabo, who actually wrote our text and has been a Merton scholar for many years now. To learn from a scholar was mind numbing. She would be explaining his early education and say things like "when I was at his elementary school...". It all seemed so hard to believe.
(Left - Abbey grounds, so beautiful, I think one of my new favourite Lower Mainland spots)
The truth is this....as quoted by my fellow class member, I never knew that a Cistercian monk from Kentucky could become so incredibly intriguing and like a close friend in the course of five days. So, if you are at all interested, I recommend you start reading his material. It is honestly some of the most beautiful writing I have read in a long time. Thank you for enduring this ridiculously long post