A 40 Year "Retrospective Journey"

“Be good, keep your feet dry,
your eyes open, your heart at peace
and your soul in the joy of Christ.”
Thomas Merton

November 6, 2008

Peregrinatio Virtualis

pil·grim·age pílgrimij n. from L. peregrinatio
1. religious journey: a journey to a holy place, undertaken for religious reasons
2. trip to special place: a journey to a place with special significance

I'm a little over three weeks into this "e-pilgrimage" with Thomas Merton. The thought of such a journey occurred to me last summer during a course on Merton at the Vancouver School of Theology. The course looked at Merton as Monk, Prophet and Poet and was taught collaboratively by Paul Pearson, Lynn Szabo, and Ron Dart. I noted that this year was the 40th anniversary of Merton's Asian journey and committed then to spending significant time with him this fall. The "Blog" was an afterthought and has been both a lot of fun and an effective discipline towards keeping me on the journey.

Time Warp
A significant piece of this pilgrimage is the travel back in time to 1968. I am being immersed in the images, sounds, and events of that incredibly tumultuous year. Time Magazine said of 1968 that it was "like a knife blade... the year severed past from future."

1968 in Film
Last night Pam and I watched "Chicago 10", a recent documentary on the anti war protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. "Chicago 10" uses both archival footage and a creatively animated dramatization of the trial of the arrested protesters, to tell the story of the anti-war protests, the ensuing riots, and the convention. We've also watched "Forrest Gump" and "Good Morning Vietnam" and look forward to seeing "The Graduate" and other 1968 films. Pam's a pretty good sport and goes along with this to a certain extent. She did however, draw the line at my Halloween choice of "The Night of the Living Dead". I'm not sure if she will go for "Planet of the Apes" either!

1968 in Music
As far as music goes... what a delight!! 1968 was a great year of music... folk, rock, and country included! I've rediscovered some great songs and I'm often seen dancing around my kitchen to the sounds of "Gary Puckett and the Union Gap", "Tommy James and the Shondels", and other great bands from the Sixties. I'm also enjoying looking at the various Eastern connections that musicians were making at that time, "The Beatles" and "The Who" for instance. Most, but not all, of what I'm posting here is from 1968.

Flavors of Asia
Since this is just a virtual pilgrimage I'm denied the travel dimension. I've compensated partially by taking Pam out to the local Thai restaurant while Merton was in Bangkok and to a wonderful Indian place while he was in New Delhi. I'm looking forward to trying out a local Tibetan restaurant as well!

Getting to Know Merton
At the heart of this all is the simple desire to spend some quality time with Thomas Merton and to get to know him a little better. I said a little about "Why Merton?" in an earlier post. I would only add that I see Merton as both a mentor and guide for my personal journey and as an authentic voice of prophetic wisdom for the renewal of the church in this age.
Keep on e-Trekking... Rob
"Unless one says good-bye to what one loves, and unless one travels to completely new territories, one can expect merely a long wearing away of oneself and eventual extinction." Jean Dubuffet

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