Today marks the 97th birthday of the late Trappist monk and spiritual writer, Thomas Merton.

This is the beginning of the entry in Merton’s journal from January 31, 1968, the last birthday he would celebrate on this earth.

Clear, thin new moon appearing and disappearing between slow slate blue clouds – and the living black skeletons of the trees against the evening sky. More artillery than usual whumping at [Fort] Knox. It is my fifty-third birthday.

He spent the day, admittedly not working, but enjoying the unusual springlike afternoon around the monastery and near the pond. How will you celebrate Merton’s Birthday?

Photo: Merton Legacy Trust


  1. Looks like I’ll have to celebrate this birthday a day late. But I’ll do it by re-watching Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton, an excellent PBS documentary that never fails to inspire. Perhaps accompanied by some bourbon as well.

  2. I spent it remembering the words of Jim Finley speaking of Merton: “This man’s existence made God’s non-existence impossible.” (And working on my paper for the Merton panel at the College English Association in March–hoping for some special inspiration.)

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