“The real hope, then, is not in something we thing we can do, but in God who is making something good out of in some way we cannot see. If we can do His will we will be helping in this process. But we will not necessarily know all about it beforehand.” –Thomas Merton to Jim Forest
In entering the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane in 1941, Thomas Merton initially saw himself as withdrawing from “the world.” But in later years his sense of monastic vocation changed. His contemplative life became a point of prophetic engagement with his fellow men and women in their struggles, their hopes, and their questions. This social engagement was particularly fueled by his wide correspondence.
Signs of Hope focuses on Merton’s engagement with the themes of peace, race, and ecology, as expressed through particular relationships, including with such notable figures as Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan, and Vincent Harding. Each chapter reveals themes from his life of dialogue, his apostolate of friendship, and his probing assessment of critical issues that remain vital for our time.
Gordon Oyer is the author of Pursuing the Spiritual Roots of Protest: Merton, Berrigan, Yoder, Muste at the Gethsemane Peacemakers Retreat (Cascade Books, 2014), which won the International Thomas Merton Society’s Louie Award for the best contribution to Merton studies of the previous three years.