Cover image for Dialogues with silence : prayers & drawings
Dialogues with silence : prayers & drawings
Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Francisco : HarperSanFrancisco, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 189 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BV210.2 .M46 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BV210.2 .M46 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BV210.2 .M46 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BV210.2 .M46 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Thomas Merton loved life with the passion of a romantic poet. At the age of twenty-six he chose to become a Trappist monk and began to pursue his ultimate, lifelong passion. From his austere quarters at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Trappist, Kentucky, Merton worked to change the world and to come closer to his God. The drawings and prayers in this volume are the intimate, beautifully rendered record of that pursuit -- Merton's dialogue with God. The prayers have been gathered from all of Merton's writings -- his books, journals, letters -- and are collected here, along with his largely unknown drawings, for the first time.

In his drawings we see the evolution of Merton's art from purely representational to the more abstract, reflecting his interest in Zen andEastern cultures. It is easy to see that art was in his genes; both of his parents were artists. With each prayer and in every brushstroke, we sensethe depth of Merton's passion as we pause and incline our ear to his voice offering these heartfelt songs to God and to the world. Dialogues with Silenceinvites the reader to enter into that sacred realm of contemplation where we listen in silence and await the divine presence in our lives, where emptiness becomes the juncture for the interchange between the outer and inner worlds, where darkness is transformed into light -- the place where the voice of God is revealed.

Author Notes

Born in France, Thomas Merton was the son of an American artist and poet and her New Zealander husband, a painter. Merton lost both parents before he had finished high school, and his younger brother was killed in World War II. Something of the ephemeral character of human endeavor marked all his works, deepening the pathos of his writings and drawing him close to Eastern, especially Buddhist, forms of monasticism.

After an initial education in the United States, France, and England, he completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University. His parents, nominally friends, had given him little religious guidance, and in 1938, he converted to Roman Catholicism. The following year he received an M.A. from Columbia University and in 1941, he entered Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, where he remained until a short time before his death.

His working life was spent as a Trappist monk. At Gethsemani, he wrote his famous autobiography, "The Seven Storey Mountain" (1948); there he labored and prayed through the days and years of a constant regimen that began with daily prayer at 2:00 a.m. As his contemplative life developed, he still maintained contact with the outside world, his many books and articles increasing steadily as the years went by. Reading them, it is hard to think of him as only a "guilty bystander," to use the title of one of his many collections of essays. He was vehement in his opposition to the Vietnam War, to the nuclear arms race, to racial oppression.

Having received permission to leave his monastery, he went on a journey to confer with mystics of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He was accidentally electrocuted in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 10, 1968.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like his beautifully crafted letters and journals, Merton's prayers and drawings reveal his multifaceted personality, his hunger for God and his passion for providing others with a glimpse of the path to union with God. Jonathan Montaldo, who directs the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine College in Louisville, Ky., collects here for the first time Merton's black-and-white line drawings along with the monk's prayers, most of which have been previously published. The effect is stunning, for the drawings and prayers are printed on facing pages. The stark realism of Merton's art startles and prepares the soul for the prayer on the opposite page. For example, opposite a drawing of a humble Mary, he prays: "Lady, Queen of Heaven, pray me into solitude and silence and unity, that all my ways may be immaculate in God.... Let me... disappear into the writing I do. It should mean nothing special to me... its results should not concern me." Opposite a half-formed figure, Merton prays: "My God, I pray better to You by breathing/ I pray better to You by walking than by talking." While some readers will wonder why the world needs another book of Merton's writings when these prayers are available already, Merton's art provides a glimpse of his journey never before seen. Merton fans will certainly welcome this new addition to their already burgeoning shelves. (Nov.) Forecast: Publishing Thomas Merton's writings has become a small cottage industry, and Harper San Francisco holds the key to the cottage door. As long as there are treasures to be mined from Merton's life and writings, expect more little volumes like this. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It is at times difficult to believe that the writings of a Trappist monk who died in 1968 continue to attract attention, but it is without doubt that Merton's works continue to instruct, challenge, and comfort a new generation of Christian and non-Christian readers alike. This book is both new and old, in that it combines prayers and meditations from published writings of Merton that are still widely available with his rarely seen and touchingly nonprofessional drawings not only of saints or religious figures but of trees, flowers, and ordinary people. While this book will never add Merton to the ranks of great artists, it indeed casts new and thought-provoking light on his finely written prayers. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Dialogues with Silence Prayers and Drawings Lord, when the clock strikes Telling the time with cold tin And I sit hooded in this lectern Waiting for the monks to come, I see the red cheeses, and bowls All smile with milk in ranks upon their tables. Light fills my proper globe (I have one light to read by With a little, tinkling chain) And the monks come down the cloister With robes as voluble as water. I do not see them but I hear their waves. It is winter, and my hands prepare To turn the pages of the saints: And to the trees Thy moon has frozen on the windows My tongue shall sing Thy Scripture. Then the monks pause upon the step (With me here in this lectern And Thee there on Thy crucifix) And gather little pearls of water on their fingers' ends Smaller than this my psalm. Dialogues with Silence Prayers and Drawings . Copyright © by Thomas Merton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings by Thomas Merton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.