March 31st was a bright sunny day as Starr and I begin our journey to Louisville, Kentucky for our first Road Scholar trip! We immersed ourselves in the study of the life of Thomas Merton who was born on January 31, 1915 in France and died much too young on December 10, 1968 at the age of 56 in Bangkok, Thailand. He was a Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. He wrote more than 70 books and scores of essays and reviews. His bestselling autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain” was published in 1948 and is said to have sent scores of World War II veterans, students, and even teenagers flocking to monasteries across the United States. “The Seven Storey Mountain” was also featured in the National Review’s list of 100 best non-fiction books of the century.
I love this quote by Thomas Merton: “Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love.”
Starr and I were thrilled to be apart of this small group of knowledgeable individuals who seemed to know as much about the life of Thomas Merton as the experts we studied with. We were sad to say goodbye to them because we all became friends. Actually our group exchanged email addresses so hopefully “Thomas Merton” will be the catalyst that will keep us in contact with each other.
We had an afternoon free so we took the Louisville City Taste Tour and visited Mom-Pops Shops, where treated to “Famous” and “Favorite Foods” of Louisville, tasted Local Beer, Wine, & many Bourbons! We visited famous Attractions and had a fabulous afternoon laughing and developing friendships!
Our Road Scholar study trip ended at noon on Friday and Starr and I drove to Lexington to visit my granddaughter Claire. She showed us around the University of Kentucky campus and we visited awhile at her adorable apartment with her roommate Emery. Later my grandson Ryan came over from Indiana for his girlfriends Liz’s Chi Omega’s Black and White Ball. We all had this pre-birthday celebration at this fabulous French restaurant. Yum!
Starr and drove back to Atlanta Saturday feeling like we had an incredible adventure. I was going to visit with Starr and Don, see a few friends, and just relax a little before driving back to New Orleans. My actually “Eighty First” birthday was Sunday, April 7th and Starr and Don gave me the most wonderful Surprise birthday party at their home.
Starr and I have been best friends for “61” years! Our friendship begin at LSU in 1957 and continued through the years. Life is good! Best friends are forever!
I’ll end this Blog with another quote by Thomas Merton about life: “The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else’s imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last be real.”
If you haven’t heard of Thomas Merton you have missed a wealth of inspiration!