Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a Trappist monk, writer, peace and civil rights activist, and one of the most adventuresome spiritual writers of the twentieth century. As editor Jonathan Montaldo, president of the Thomas Merton Society, points out in the introduction, this creative thinker was "a conscientious archivist of his life experiences." He processed all his reading and encounters with others through daily journals. Seven volumes of these have been published. This book presents some of their most profound and soul-stirring passages in a 365-day format. A special added treat is twelve Zen-style pen-and-ink drawings by Merton.

The spiritual seeker and the dedicated spiritual practitioner will both find plenty of material here to boost their souls. There are numerous thought-provoking journal entries demonstrating the author's open-mindedness and his ever-expanding appreciation of God's presence in his life and in the world around him. Here's a sampler of material from the book:

On Solitude
"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them. It is pure affection, and filled with reverence for the solitude of others. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say."

On Mission
"I am obscurely convinced that there is a need in the world for something I can provide and that there is a need for me to provide it. True, someone else can do it, God does not need me. But I feel he is asking me to provide it."

A Close Encounter in Nature
"Receiving an honor:
A very small, gold-winged moth came and settled on the back of my hand, and sat there, so light that I could not feel it. I wondered at the beauty and delicacy of this being — so perfectly made, with mottled golden wings. So perfect. I wonder if there is even a name for it. I never saw such a thing before. It would not go away until, needing my hand, I blew it lightly into the woods."

On Greeting the Day
"It is necessary for me to see the first point of light that begins to be dawn. It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of Day in solemn silence at which the sun appears, for at this moment all the affairs of cities, of governments, of war departments, are seen to be the bickering of mice. I receive from the eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word DAY. It is never the same. It is always in a totally new language.