Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thomas Merton, Jack Kerouac, and Bill Clinton - 24 hours of exciting email

A blog often leads to exciting email. But nothing like the last 24 hours.


Dear Dan,

I found your site about a year ago when I was looking for information about Thomas Merton on the web. I've been following your blog for the past few months but have not taken the time to write you until now.

The recent post on your blog detailing another's introduction to the works of Thomas Merton made me sit up and realize that I had never written you to tell you of my story.

First, a bit of back story is needed. I work for a cleaning company, and occasionally we stray from the standard 9-5 businesses and clean some very interesting places. One of which just happened to be a Carmelite retreat center in Williamstown, Massachusetts. I had the pleasure of cleaning this large, old building for a couple of years before it was closed and put up for sale (the people who bought it were a nearby family who wanted to keep it as holy as possible,
using it as a home and perhaps one day turning it into a bed and breakfast (instead of the other bidder, who wanted to tear down the chapel portion of it and turn it into a resort).

Anyhow, during the last days of this great building, myself and a friend were called in to clean out everything from the rooms and surrounding property. Most of what was left after the priest and staff moved out was the average clutter you'd expect from an age old religious retreat. A lot of it (sadly) went into the dumpster, but some things were interesting enough for me to take home (which the head of the retreat said we could, should anything strike our fancy). In one of the upper bedrooms, left behind by either the priest or a staff member, was a tattered old copy of The Sign Of Jonas by Thomas Merton. I thought the book looked interesting so I took it home but never really got around to reading it (I've since read many of his books).

So that's my Thomas Merton story. And I should give you my thanks as well, for inspiring me to look further into myself and find my own true nature of Christ that lurks just beyond the surface. And thank you for your own wisdom, which I find on your blog. It helps many I'm sure, but it at least helps me to take a moment and contemplate a little deeper on manythings about life. Your work is noble and your words are true. I thank you for sharing them with the rest of us.

Wishing you all the best,
David. M. Lemoine


Good morning,

I'm a journalist in France and need an information about Jack Kerouac. Is it true that he was in Big Sur in the Summer 1960 ? Is it correct to say that after his novel "Big Sur" he only published books that have been refused by editors before he was famous ?

Thank you,

All the best,

Francisca Matteoli.

And of course I have a Jack Kerouac webpage.


And a note from my brother Ronald and his wife.

On a whim yesterday, Jimmie and I decided to come to Little Rock for the Clinton Library Dedication. WE have seen Sam Donelson, John Kerry, Geraldo Rivera, and Chris Tucker. We hear that Jlo and Brad Pitt are hear too. We saw the Band U2 in concert and saw the largest fireworks show ever in Arkansas. We are having the best time. WE got a room for $47 at the Days Inn in Jacksonville, AR which is 14 miles from Little Rock. Having a great time. It is fun to be here. A lot of young people are here.

Just like your Hank Aaron 715 attendance, it is just fun to be there.

Love Ronald

Editor's Note: Another fun time was when Janet and I were visiting Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1990. We didn't realize it, but when we got there it was the 45th anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Army band was there, some general who was with him at Malta, several famous journalists and former governors of Georgia. We sat on the 3rd or 4th row from the front. We thought we were dignitaries too hi.

There is nothing quite like email. Ha!!!!


At 9:58 PM, Blogger chazglen said...

I just finished watching a movie of Kerouac's "On the Road" made in 2012. It had the words and cars and clothes of late 40s but was pure 1969. That was when I was 19. I'm a bit older now.

I had remembered from 'Seven Storey Mountain' this was Thomas Merton's 'fork-in-the-road' era and also knew the fire of that time never really left his belly. Henri Nouwen, an author I greatly admire and one who pulled me out of a deep funk 30 years ago, introduced me to Merton through his book, 'The Genesee Diary.' He referred to having dreamt of Merton so many times that I thought any person who could lie so deeply in a great thinker's subconscious was one I needed to know as well. I would like to say I've also dreamt of him, but I don't know. Maybe I have.

I even bought a cassette tape of Merton teaching young monks on the theophany aspects in Faulkner's 'The Bear.' He taught Faulkner with such passion I wondered again: should I redeem my hatred of him learned in ninth grade under a passive and unhooded executioner of American literature? ...a dusty and jaundiced woman who had about her the 'rank smell of female old flesh long embattled in virginity'? Well, I did and discovered for myself that this writer, who I THOUGHT was being arrogantly obscure, really was a genius.

Merton just nails it for me, though... every time.


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