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Merton, Thomas: Dancing in the Water of Life

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The '60s were a time of restlessness, inner turmoil and exuberance for Merton, a time during which he closely followed the careening development of political and social activism -- Martin Luther King Jr., and the March on Selma; the Catholic Worker Movement; the Vietnam War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Volume 5 chronicles the approach of Merton's fiftieth birthday and marks his move to Mount Olivet, his hermitage at the Abbey of Gethsemani, where he was finally able to embrace fully the joys and challenges of solitary life: "In the hermitage, one must pray or go to seed. The pretense of prayer will not suffice. Just sitting will not suffice... Solitude puts you with your back to the wall (or your face to it!), and this is good" (October 13, 1964).