This restored and corrected edition of Thomas Merton's 1971 classic collection of essays contains the line: "Our first task is to be fully human." The Trappist monk continues, "When I speak of the contemplative life I do not mean the institutional, cloistered life . . . I am talking about a special dimension of inner discipline and experience, a certain integrity and fullness of personal development."
Many years ahead of his time as all serious prophets are Merton saw the necessary link between contemplation and social action. Spiritual practice is a support system for all those who want to change the world. Many of these essays probe the meaning of monastic renewal. In one of the most adventuresome pieces Merton affirms imagination as "a faculty for seeing relationships, for seeing meanings that are special and even quite new." Defining the practice of imagination as something holy is one of this pathfinder's most important legacies.