Several years ago I attempted Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. I never finished it, but after reading this chapter I’m wanting to go back and give it another try. The Seven Storey Mountain tells Merton’s story of his tragic loss of nearly every significant adult member of his immediate and extended family. And how he found community in God’s community, the church.

Beebe and Foster write, “In The Seven Storey Mountain, he [Merton] identifies the nine issues with which each one of us must wrestle–life, death, time, love, sorrow, fear, wisdom, suffering, and eternity–then uses Dante’s image of the multiple levels of purgatory we must overcome if we are to discover a pure relationship with God.”
Allow me to quote several passages of Merton’s that Beebe and Foster quote in Longing For God.
“We are often confronted by questions that we cannot answer because the time for answering them has not yet come.”
“The spiritual life is not a life of quiet withdrawal, a hothouse of growth of artificial ascetic practices beyond the reach of people living ordinary lives. It is in the ordinary duties and labors of life that can and should develop our spiritual union with God.” [This is especially interesting coming from someone who chose the enter the monastery at age twenty-six.]
“What we are asked to do at present is not so much speak of Christ as to let Him live in us so that people may find Him by feeling how He lives in us.”