-“You’re on a quest….I know—I can read faces.”
This commentary was uttered gently but unexpectedly by a fellow student in a course of literary craft in Miami Dade College – Wolfson Campus in 2014, during a brief class break while we were seated next to each other in the front row. As I imperviously kept the conversation going on, she looked at us intently without saying anything. Then, out of the blue, she uttered those words.
She was (and, God bless her, most likely still is) an educated and smart lady that had just arrived from a trip to Mongolia where she had painstakingly recorded their children’s stories. We cannot remember her name but her facial features were seared in our memory. She decided to undertake that perilous trek totally funded with her own financial means because she felt that someone had to do it before that precious cultural heritage would be lost forever in a few generations. She explained to us that the Mongol people relied much more on oral traditions rather than the written records; however, with the onslaught of the digital revolution reaching as far away as their nomadic yurts, the elders feared that the chain of transmission could be broken due to their youngsters’ distractions.
She told us that in her frequent trips to the Far East, she had occasionally come across a guy in the street that had our same absent look, as if we were somewhere else. Or trying to reach another destination than the physical location where we were standing. We explained to her that we wanted to write novels and essays, which she liked. But she warned us that no commercial or academic success would ever totally satisfy us. She told us that we would never leave the road to settle down in comfy places. We looked at her in silence and bewilderment, but we respected her firm diagnosis.
Now we are fully convinced that she hit it on top of the nail. We are, and will always be, on a quest. Discovering new places, talking to different people, sharing the joy and sadness of Living with them.
Note. This reproduction of Peter Bruegel’s The Peasant Dance was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pieter_Bruegel_d._%C3%84._014.jpg
We have always been avid readers and loyal fans of Thomas Merton, the French – American mystic, poet, writer, social activist, and inter-faith collaborator, who just only happened to be a Trappist monk with a checkered relationship with hierarchy. Not surprisingly, like the great thinkers and movers of the Catholic Church like Saint Francis of Assisi, he was admired and reviled at the same time (can this be possible?) by his superiors in the order who resented his growing popularity all over the world. On December 10, 1968, while he was attending a Red Cross conference in Thailand, he was found dead in his cottage room, presumably due to an electrocution(sic) However, he had a clear laceration in the back of his head and he did not have an autopsy; ever since, many journalists have claimed that he was murdered by the Usual Suspects due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. We will write about him, his works, his influence, and also about the 2018 book detailing his demise.
Note. This image of the Reverend Thomas Merton was taken from Wikimedia Commons.
By The Merton Center: http://www.mertoncenter.org/Poetry/griffin.jpg, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18293738
Man on a Quest.
Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.