What is the real face
of Thomas Merton?
When he painted the portrait
of his friend Merton standing near the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky,
Ed Rice deliberately blanked out Tom's face. He confessed to being confused.
Over the years, the scholars, the followers, publishers, the church itself,
had drawn a portrait that was unrecognizable, that of a plastic saint, a
monk interested mainly in pulling nonbelievers, and believers in other faiths,
into the one true religion. This was not the Merton that his friends from
younger days and later days, Jim Knight and Ed Rice, knew. Merton was eminently
human. He honored, and reached out to other faiths. He loved, he laughed.
In essence he was a poet, who used words to help us understand the thousands
of things we need to understand. This is his portrait, as recalled by his
very close friends.