In each age, there are people to whom we turn for lessons in how to live more truly and more deeply. They are the guides and gurus, the prophets and saints whose spiritual journeys illumine ours. Although Merton would have eschewed the designation "spiritual master," it is clear that he emerged as a voice to be listened to — even during his own lifetime. The astounding success of The Seven Storey Mountain had cast Thomas Merton in the role of a spokesman for the contemplative life. In subsequent books, he drew on his experience as a contemplative and his gifts as a writer to map the terrain of the inner life. He became, in his own words, "an explorer" who felt himself "summoned to explore a desert area of the human heart."

Christine M. Bochen, Thomas Merton by Christine M. Bochen, editor