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Author, Journalist & Retreat Guide
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A warm welcome!
This evolving website opens at the hermitage of Thomas Merton whose dual vocation as a writer and a monk has influenced me profoundly. He describes a journalist as 'one who observes' but he also draws attention to the inner eye. Each of us has a 'hermitage within' where God meets us in our own human reality and invites us into relationship.
I travelled to Merton's monastery in Kentucky to interview monks who had known him. You can hear the BBC programme on this website. I also describe the visit in my book Spiritual Masters for All Seasons (Paulist Press) which includes a reflection on Merton by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
Merton writes as personalist who believes science and technology have their place in the realm of human improvement - so long as they respect the view that the origin and goal of all being lies in God.
He speaks about the divine image in all people and about the ordinariness of contemplation, noting that the dehumanazing effects of technology can easily lead to cultural disintegration. Every person is theomorphic (God-shaped) and essentially contemplative. In his writings, he comes to see the monk as a social critic who operates from the fringes of society, mirroring the early desert tradition with its rejection of compromise and convention.
To be a contemplative is to be an outlaw.
Michael Ford (right) with the brothers at Thomas Merton's hermitage, Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, during a BBC recording of Radio 4's Sunday Worship from the United States.
My hermitage is dedicated to St Mary of Carmel. I like being a hermit, and I do have real solitude. It is wonderful to live so close to birds ... I just live (Thomas Merton, A Life in Letters).