Don't get me wrong. It isn't as though I have any personal aversion to Thomas Merton. I have read The Seven Storey Mountain, and Thoughts in Solitude, and Spiritual Direction and Contemplation. I had even gained a lot of insight about my spiritual journey from them. I just didn't think that I wanted to study Thomas Merton in a Masters Level class.
My mistake came when I made my feelings about this known out loud to another person, namely the director of the Lay Degree Program. God took that as His opening, as is His way -- at least in my life -- to make sure that no matter how carefully I tried to avoid taking the class on Merton I would have to take it.
Lucky for me, I guess the Gradual School doesn't pay the Lay Director enough, or he doesn't have enough to keep him busy, because he rose to the challenge and was determined to earn that lunch I had dangled before him. He set out to find another class that I could take, or some other way for me not to have to take the Merton class.
Fast forward a few years, and due to a circumstance that neither of us had imagined or even considered, the Nun who had taught the class on Merton was reassigned by her order and left the teaching staff of the Gradual School. The Merton Class was withdrawn from the Schedule.
Oh Happy DayI was free! And more than happy to pay up my debt of a free lunch to the Lay Director on the first weekend of class this fall, which will be September 9-11.
Yesterday I got the Syllabus for the class I will be taking this fall. It is a class called Human Development and Christian Maturity, taught by one of the Monks at the Monastery, that is connected to our Gradual School, who also happens to have a PhD in Psychology. What a shock it was to my system to read it, and all the time hear God's great belly laugh from heaven as I saw, and I am cutting and pasting these word for word from the syllabus:
1. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton (1998 Harcourt Brace edition)
2. Selected articles and book chapters (copy fee will be assessed)
7-12 page written project: Identifying aspects of human development and
Christian maturity in the life of Thomas Merton
Okay God, I get it, You are in control of my life. I surrender. I give up. I submit to your Divine will.
You can stop laughing now, really.
If the Lay Director thinks he is getting his free lunch he has another think coming.