Chapter

Learning to See

SSJ Monica Weis

in The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780813130040
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135717 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5810/kentucky/9780813130040.003.0003
Learning to See

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This chapter examines Thomas Merton's early life, looking for examples of seeds: influences and patterns that contributed to his predisposition for ecological thinking. It specifically concentrates on Merton's gift of awareness and sense of place—from his infant days in Prades, France, to his entrance into the Trappist monastery in Kentucky and the turning point of June 27, 1949, when the abbot permitted Merton to pray beyond the confines of the monastery cloister. Three French landscapes in particular—Prades, Saint-Antonin, Murat—as well as the city of Rome show how vulnerable Merton was to the influence of geography and how deeply these places contributed in later years to his love of wilderness and his evolving ecological consciousness. Generally, June 27, 1949, represents the abbot's wise recognition of Merton's need to be in nature, his recognition of the potential for deeper prayer that contact with the wilderness can stimulate, and an official invitation to savor a new awareness of both outer and inner landscapes.

Keywords: Thomas Merton; Prades; Saint-Antonin; Murat; Rome; ecological consciousness; nature; prayer

Chapter.  8716 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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