cover image DIALOGUES WITH SILENCE: Prayers and Drawings

DIALOGUES WITH SILENCE: Prayers and Drawings

Thomas Merton, . . Harper San Francisco, $25 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-06-065602-7

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.