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I spent a wonderful few days this past weekend learning about two great spiritual guides- Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen.  My new role as the Executive Director of the Henri Nouwen Society has provided me with a number of opportunities to meet the most interesting people in the area of spiritual development.

On Friday our Board came together for our bi-annual in person meeting. It is an accomplished group of people who all share a deep connection to Nouwen. Some knew him personally while others, like myself, only came to know him through his books and recorded talks.

We were invited as a group to a reception hosted by our friends at St. Michael’s Kelly Library and as part of the gathering, we got a sneak peak and presentation on A Hidden Wholeness:The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton. Dr. Paul M Pearson ,Director and Archivist, The Thomas Merton Center Bellarmine University in Kentucky, delivered a 30 minute presentation that explored Merton’s simple yet moving photographs of old buildings, rocks and even paint cans.

On Monday evening, I was honored to host a dinner for Professor Michael Higgins of Sacred Heart University. Professor Higgins has been chosen by the Nouwen Legacy Trust to write the official biography of Henri Nouwen. He is also a Merton scholar and after our most delightful dinner, he was the guest lecturer for an evening on Merton and Nouwen.

This thought provoking talk provided me with a number of ideas for future posts but for now, I encourage you to visit the Merton Center by clicking this link and exploring the  Hidden Wholeness:The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton. Some examples are provided below- take your time and be aware of what Merton sees in these simple images of the most common objects that  he captured with his camera.

“Merton’s goal for the photographs was one of spiritual and intellectual transcendence, but they function on an aesthetic level so pure as to be visually transcendent as well. That’s almost too much to expect from photographs and an achievement not often seen these days.” Evan Gillespie, Tribune Correspondent

Copyright Merton Legacy Trust.

Please visit the Exhibit at:

University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto,  November 1 – December 17, 2010.

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