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Merton in the Mountains: A Silent Retreat

First we’ll get to the details, then the back story. I have stepped in to lead the 26th annual Merton in the Mountains silent retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y. — in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains — Friday to Sunday, Sept. 6 to 8. There are still open spots for this weekend opportunity to step away from the busyness of everyday life and unplug, be still and just listen. As if that’s not enough, we’ll have talks, moving meditations, mindful meals, and the chance (weather permitting) to hike, kayak, or just kick back in an Adirondack chair on one of the many decks and soak in the silence and the boundless natural beauty. It’s only $130, all inclusive (program, accommodations, meals.)

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Spiritual medicine from a wise Trappist monk

The past few months have been quite a spiritual roller-coaster for me due to an experience in early summer that pushed me past the breaking point. I couldn’t even bring myself to attend Sunday Mass, something completely out of character for me. My family would head off to church, and I would stay behind, feeling cut off, unable to rouse the slightest spark of spiritual connection. Read more

‘Shining like the sun’: Merton goes to the prom

I was standing in the dressing room of Lord & Taylor recently, waiting outside a closed stall door as Olivia tried on dress after dress in the elusive search for the perfect prom attire. As I scrolled through Facebook while she ran through her costume changes, I was surreptitiously eavesdropping on a group of high school girls who had taken up residence in the other four dressing room stalls, sequins and taffeta spilling out each time one of them peeked out to ask for an opinion. They ran back and forth between stalls, giddy with excitement and generous with compliments as they gushed over each other’s choices and encouraged each other to be bold and wear something outside of their typical fashion comfort zones. Read more

Remembering Thomas Merton

Ever since I first came in contact with the writings of Thomas Merton almost 30 years ago, he has spoken to me. I know I’m not alone there. Countless people of every faith and persuasion have found meaning in his writings and his life. Of course, others will counter that with claims that he was too flawed to be held up as a role model, or, dare I say, saint, but that’s precisely why he’s a great example. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: Heart of Darkness

Today’s Wisdom Wednesday is brought to you by Thomas Merton:

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us… It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…I have no program for this seeing.  It is only given.  But the gate of heaven is everywhere.” – Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander