In November 1960 the noted scholar of Shaker life and craft, Edward Deming Andrews, wrote to Thomas
Merton offering assistance with a book on the religion of the Shakers that he had heard Merton was planning.
Though nothing came of that book, the ensuing correspondence between Merton and Andrews, and after
Andrews' death in 1964 with his widow and collaborator Faith, itself became a spirited and spiritual
examination and celebration of the lives and legacy of the Shakers.
Here for the first time, Dr. Paul M. Pearson (Director of the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University)
introduces and brings together both sides of this correspondence,allowing the reader to delight in both the
interplay of ideas and inspiration, and the growth of sincere affection, that occurred between Merton and the
Andrews through their shared vocation. The correspondence is supplemented by a selection of Merton's
photographs of the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, newly identified with captions supplied by
Pleasant Hill Curator Larrie S. Curry. A review of the Andrews' Shaker Furniture by Ananda K.
Coomaraswamy concludes the volume.
Merton once observed, "The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the fact that it was made by someone
capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on it." To read these letters is to experience a meeting of
angels, coming to rest for a moment in the contemplation of the simple, but to this day challenging, gifts of the
“These letters reveal a true meeting of minds. It is a delight to read the private correspondence of two such
learned and gentlemanly souls. Merton is thoughtful and eloquent; Andrews is generous and kind. Both are
intellectual. This is a lovely book, inside and out. Paul M.Pearson, who edited this volume and also provides
the introduction, is a fine scholar.”
Frederick Smock, Louisville Courier Journal, November 29, 2008
“The publication ... emphasises particularly, for us, Merton’s great capacity for friendship, his compassion and
enthusiasm to share his boundless knowledge....We are indebted to Dr. Paul Pearson for this delightful book
which brings Merton, as his friends knew him, so much closer to us.”
Thea van Dam, The Merton Journal, Eastertide, 2009; Vol. 16, No.1
"Over the sink in the kitchen of Thomas Merton’s hermitage is a Shaker spirit drawing, 'The Tree of Life,' that
hangs like a memory of Merton’s fascination with that peculiar people called the Shakers. It was the gift of
Edward Deming Andrews, the token of a friendship celebrated in this collection.... A Meeting of Angels is
another beautiful volume by Paul Pearson who has carefully presented...a precious distillation of Merton’s
illuminating insights into the fascinating heritage of the American Shakers....[With] Dr. Pearson, I salute the
friendship between these two exceptional souls which he describes as 'a rare meeting of spirits…the celebration
of a meeting of angels….'"
Kathleen Deignan, CND, "A Common Ground of Simplicity,"
The Merton Seasonal, Vol. 34, No. 2, Summer 2009
"A good book – a worthy book – leads its adventurous readers on a journey of discovery, only to bring those
pilgrims back home to their too familiar world, forever changed. In A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence
of Thomas Merton with Edward Deming & Faith Andrews, editor Paul M. Pearson has given us just such a
book.... Reading any such book of real letters shared by real people struggling with passion and purpose
provides an experience starkly refreshing…."
David Shockey, Kentucky Monthly, May 2009
In this meditation on the poetry of Thomas Merton, fellow poet Frederick Smock considers how Merton's
poetry - perhaps the least-known of his writings - was nevertheless an integral component of his work for peace.
But as the term meditation suggests, Smock's examination of the poetry serves as a point of entry into a far
broader inquiry, not only into Merton's life and work, but into the necessary engagement of other poets in the
work for peace, and into Smock's own development as an artist and a man confronting the world.
"Frederick Smock's 'Peace to all who enter here' is not so much another meditation on Merton as it is Merton's
meditations on the timeless values of silence, solitude, and meditation itself as a means of finding spiritual
balance and peace in a world given over to sectarian division and strife. It is a wise prescription to treat the
birth pangs of globalization, including intolerance and the practice of violent nation-building. It should be read
by all who wish to better understand the doctrinal walls that only seem to separate us - including poets, students
of the spirit, citizens of conscience, and members of Congress."
Richard Taylor, Kentucky Poet Laureate
"In this short but beautifully produced little volume Frederick Smock...presents one of the few books about
Merton's poetry specifically written by a fellow poet...and from his own background in poetry he captures
insights into Merton overlooked in many other works and then conveys those insights in delightful prose with a
lilt of poetry. Pax Intrantibus is a gentle introduction to Merton's poetry, not an academic tome. Smock opens
up the major themes of Merton's poetry from his earliest poems right up to the poems written in the final year
of his life. Though gentle Smock does not avoid tackling the numerous issues Merton raises through his poetry,
in particular, as the title of this book suggests, Merton's poetry dealing with war and peace, the nuclear arms
race, racism, the media and technology.... In the spirit of Thomas Merton Smock takes Merton's thought and
applies it to our present day, thought that is as pertinent now as it was at the time Merton wrote it.... This small
book would be a valuable addition to any Merton library."
Paul M. Pearson, The Merton Journal, Advent 2007, Volume 14 Number 2
"Smock...doesn't attempt to define the paradoxical Merton or his poetry.... But what Smock does capture in this
stirring meditation is the same deep mystery and ecumenical spirit inherent in Merton's poetry."
Aimee Zaring, Louisville Courier-Journal, November 17, 2007
“Pax Intrantibus, Latin for ‘peace to those who enter,’ and inscribed above the entrance to the Abbey of
Gethsemani near Bardstown [Kentucky], is an apt title for the author’s book of meditations on Merton’s poetry.
In a much larger sense, those who enter into Merton’s verse get a picture of a spirit of peace that is universal.”
Steve Flairty, Kentucky Monthly August 2007
Frederick Smock is the poet-in-residence and chairs the English Department at Bellarmine University in
Louisville, Kentucky,where he received the 2005 Wyatt Faculty Award. His several books include three of
poetry, most recently Guest House (Larkspur Press), and essay collections Poetry & Compassion: Essays on Art
& Craft and Craft-talk: On Writing Poetry. He is the recipient of the Henry Leadingham Poetry Prize, the Jim
Wayne Miller Prize for Poetry, and an Al Smith Fellowship in Poetry from the Kentucky Arts
Council. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, and others. Mr. Smock lives in Louisville with
his wife, the writer and actor Olga-Maria Cruz.
This is a book that might well begin, "Once upon a time… and a place." The time, 1967 and 1968, a period of
now mythic cultural significance; the place, central Kentucky, from all appearances far from the epicenters of
that cultural upheaval. Yet it was then and there that Jonathan Greene, a young poet and fledgling publisher
from New York City by way of California, met one of the world’s most famous and public hermits, Thomas
Merton. The result was the tragically brief friendship and literary collaboration that is celebrated in this volume.
Greene’s introductory memoir sets the scene, describing the unexpectedly rich intellectual and artistic milieu out
in the "hinterland" of Kentucky where he was introduced to Merton through mutual friends. Two brief essays
on Merton provide further context for the letters that follow, and demonstrate both the breadth of Merton’s
literary interests and the depth of Greene’s knowledge of his friend’s writings. Their letters, all too few,
coincided with the limited run of Merton’s literary magazine, Monks Pond, and his exchange with Greene (then
publishing his own journal, Gnomon) reveals two deeply erudite and abundantly witty minds at work with the
earnest joy of language. The longing of the reader that this collaboration might have lasted for many more
years is underscored by the poignancy of Greene’s elegiac poem that closes the volume.
Both Greene and Merton have been hermits in their respective fashions, yet both in finding their footing away
from the larger world found that their feet were nevertheless on the pathway connecting them to that world,
engaging them in the life of the mind and of the spirit. Their words, surviving the silence of decades, are
indeed all the better for it.
“A delightful, beautifully produced little volume.... It is of interest to Merton aficionados...and to many others.”
Paul M. Pearson, Director, Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University --
Cistercian Studies Quarterly, 2005
“Ce petit volume est un joyeau.” ("This little volume is a joy.")
Brigitte Bouillon – Collectanea Cisterciensia, Vol. 68, No. 1 (2006)
“Its affection and direct expression provide a passing glimpse into the operations of Merton's psyche when
friendship and enterprise intersect.”
Paschal Baumstein, OSB – American Benedictine Review, September 2006
On the Banks of Monks Pond: The Thomas
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publication Date: August 2004
|Thomas Merton Series
EXPLORING THE LIFE AND WORK OF
IN THE CONTEXT AND CULTURE OF HIS TIME
by Frederick Smock
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publication Date: April 30, 2007
A Meeting of Angels: The Correspondence of Thomas
Merton with Edward Deming & Faith Andrews
edited by Paul M. Pearson
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publication Date: October 13, 2008