The greatest tribute to Merton might be the offhanded comment of an eminent theologian we know: Merton may not have been a great monk, but he was an honest man. Whatever he was, his literary achievements and influence on a huge spectrum of Christian spirituality the last half-century are undeniable, and demand recognition and evaluation. What do we know of Merton? We know that he was a monk, a man who sought God. We know he was a poet, a writer, a man of profound literary acquaintances. We know he was a translator, a preserver of texts of human compassion and wisdom. We know that he loved to live and died tragically in the midst of this love. Merton was a man who so passionately sought God that as he developed in the disciplines of spirituality and obedience, he never stagnated, but continually shed form to press more deeply into communion with God. The studies, essays, letters, anthologies and poems that remain with us from him challenge us with beauty and power continually and repeatedly to live; to dig deeply into our existence and proceed passionately, even dangerously, near to God.
An Eighth Day View:
Thoughtful and eloquent, as timely (or timeless) now as when it was originally published in 1956, Thoughts in Solitude addresses the pleasure of a solitary life, as well as the necessity for quiet reflection in an age when so little is private. Thomas Merton writes: "When society is made up of men who know no interior solitude it can no longer be held together by love: and consequently it is held together by a violent and abusive authority. But when men are violently deprived of the solitude and freedom which are their due, the society in which they live becomes putrid, it festers with servility, resentment and hate."
"Thoughts in Solitude" stands alongside "The Seven Storey Mountain" as one of Merton's most uring and popular works. Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, is perhaps the foremost spiritual thinker of the twentiethcentury. His diaries, social commentary, and spiritual writings continue to be widely read after his untimely death in 1968.