Posts Tagged ‘Merton’

An excerpt from Thomas Merton’s beautiful poem, ‘Song: If you Seek…’:

Follow my ways and I will lead you
To golden-haired suns,
Logos and music, blameless joys,
Innocent of questions
And beyond answers:

For I, Solitude, am thine own self:
I, Nothingness, am thy All.
I, Silence, am thy Amen!

As the musician and activist Kathy Mattea once sagely observed: ‘That’s the great paradox of living on this earth, that in the midst of great pain you can have great joy as well’.

Nowhere have I observed this paradox played out with such thought-provoking beauty and profundity than in the experimental non-narrative documentary by Ron Fricke entitled ‘Baraka’.  Fricke’s extended cinematographic meditation explores themes via a mesmeric compilation of nature, everyday life and human activity shot in twenty-four countries on six continents over a fourteen month period.

The existential paradox is presented through poignant images of grinding poverty, monotonous work, factory farming, prostitution, economic exploitation, pollution and the crushing of individuality. The contrast with the beauty of creation, the peace of meditation, thoughtfulness and self-transcendence tells its own story. It is at this level of transcendence, whether it is expressed through the world’s major religions or philosophies, or through some other means, that humanity comes alive and radiates beauty and hope.

I find myself drawn to watch and meditate on the message of ‘Baraka’ when I am in reflective mood.  Like any good film though, each time I watch it I see something new and emerge with a different perspective. Notwithstanding that ever-changing landscape, as I watch, I consistently turn over in my mind those very famous words Thomas Merton uttered during his ‘Louisville Epiphany’:

‘Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, suddenly realized that I loved all the people and that none of them were, or, could be totally alien to me. As if waking from a dream — the dream of separateness, of the “special” vocation to be different. My vocation does not really make me different from the rest of men or put me is a special category except artificially, juridically. I am still a member of the human race — and what more glorious destiny is there for man, since the Word was made flesh and became, too, a member of the Human Race!

Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man! As if the sorrows of our condition could really matter, once we begin to realize who and what we are — as if we could ever begin to realize it on earth’.

Merton, in his epiphany, calls on us all to explore our radical interconnectedness and to reflect on what it means to be human.  Intriguingly, ‘Baraka’ does just that too, although this time through the highly effective medium of film.

I’d highly recommend ‘Baraka’.  Once you’ve watched it once you’ll almost certainly want to watch it again….and again!

In the meantime, you can watch the official trailer here (and you can also view the entire film courtesy of Youtube):

Dear Friends,

The next Merton Fellowship day retreat will be held on Saturday 9th March 2013 at University Road Moravian Church, Belfast (http://www.moravian.org.uk/pages/congregations/belfast_uni.html)

The topic of the retreat is ‘Practicing Lectio Divina & Contemplative Prayer’; it will begin at 10am and finish at 4pm, with refreshments provided (please bring a packed lunch).

As with all of our activities, it is open to all, regardless of denominational/faith group affiliation or knowledge of Merton and his work. An interest in peace and contemplative prayer/meditation is all that is required.

To book your place, please contact me at scottpeddie@talktalk.net.

God bless,
Scott

I’ve started a new website for a new organisation – The Merton Fellowship for Peace and Contemplative Living in Ireland.  The fellowship is an informal network of individuals interested in living a life of peace and contemplation based on the example and writings of Thomas Merton, the Cistercian monk and spiritual writer.  The fellowship, which is inter-denominational and inter-faith in composition, will be officially launched on Saturday 10th December 2011 at the Corrymeela Community’s Ballycastle Centre in Co. Antrim

You can access the website here where you can follow the progress of the group, read announcements and find out about our international advisory board and the rationale behind the fellowship.  Please also feel free to contact me for further information………..

Scott

The next Merton Day Retreat will be held at Corrymeela Knocklayd on Saturday 11th June from 10am-4pm
 
The retreat is open to all and will include watching (and discussing) the film entitled Merton: A Film Biography (by Paul Wilkes and Audrey Glynn).  There will also be some prayer/meditation time, silent time, walking and a period of discussion incorporated into the programme.  The discussion will focus on the concept of love as articulated by Merton in his book The Power and the Meaning of Love (SPCK Publications: Classic Series 2010; ISBN 9780281063284).  PLEASE NOTE: Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read the book!  The discussion will be general in nature and very open.
 
Lunch and tea/coffee and biscuits will be provided throughout the day.
 
For further information, or to book your place, please e-mail me at s.peddie@pattersonpeddie.com.  I look forward to hearing from you!
 
Oh, and while I remember – I’ve put together a video based on the opening meditation of the first retreat held at Corrymeela.  Here it is: