a series of talks on silent prayer and contemplative living in today's world

Home About the Series Latest News Our Programme Our Speakers Archive How to Book Links Contact us

Thomas Merton and the Camera as a Tool for Contemplation

Esther de Waal

A brief summary of the talk given at Westminster Cathedral Hall, 25 October 2008.

©Esther de Waal 2008.

Dr de Waal showed a selection of Thomas Merton's photographs, taken while he was living in a hermitage attached to the monastery of Getsemani in Kentucky, and which she linked to quotations from his writings. We hope that the few samples included below will give you a taste of her presentation.


I looked at all this in great tranquillity, with my soul and my spirit quiet. For me landscape seems to be important for contemplation. I have no scruples about loving it.

Each particular being, in its individuality, its concrete nature and entity, with all its own characteristics and its private qualities and its own inviolable identity, gives glory to God by being precisely what He wants it to be here and now, in the circumstances ordained for it by His Love and His infinite Art.



The woods save me, and the sun and the snow.

We don’t have to run after it. It is there all the time, and if we give it time it will make itself known to us.



My own personal task is to praise God out of an inner centre of silence, gratitude, and ‘awareness’.

Return to Archive page.

Page updated by hn on 19 January 2013