July 7, 2017
by David Ryan
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A ‘Step Street’ Walk in New York City

New York may not be as hilly as Los Angeles or San Francisco, but it does have hills. And with those hills are several dozen public stairways, scattered throughout the city, to navigate them. In New York they are oftentimes referred to as ‘step streets’. Last week I had the opportunity to explore some of the step streets and stairways at the north end of Manhattan. If you’ve already been to the “must see” sights of New York and want to get away from the crowds of midtown Manhattan, you might get a kick out of exploring some new neighborhoods to the north.

Both the ‘C’ and the ‘1’ subway lines will take you north from Midtown.

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May 25, 2017
by David Ryan
5 Comments

Wandering with Thomas Merton

When Pope Francis addressed Congress in September 2015, he took time to mention four distinguished Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton.

Thomas Merton was a 20th-Century Catholic monk, mystic, writer, peace activist and champion of social justice. Although he was isolated in a monastery, he maintained an active correspondence with many notable people from around the world and his writings continue to influence people today.

As a monk and as a serious thinker, he resurrected a way of non-dualistic / contemplative thinking that had more or less been ignored since before the Reformation. Through his writings and studies, he opened doors to many other traditions. It was while attending a conference of contemplatives from different religions in Thailand that he was accidentally electrocuted by a malfunctioning fan in his bathroom at the age of 53 on December 10, 1968.

Exactly 27 years earlier, Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in rural Kentucky on December 10, 1941. Although he wanted to devote his life to being a monk separated from the world, his superiors recognized his writing talents and encouraged him to continue writing. Among his notable works are Seven Story Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation.

Earlier this month my, dog Petey and I had the chance to visit the Abbey of Gethsemani while on a road trip. Here’s what Petey and I saw while wandering around the grounds of Gethsemani:

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