Merton’s Heart

The Buffalo News ran this fascinating article about Thomas Merton, who lived for a time in Olean, NY and worked at St. Bonaventure University, from where my father has recently retired. My first part-time job was in that school’s library, and I have seen and handled some of the very books referenced in the article. St. Bonaventure really does take pride in its place in Merton’s life, and there’s a lot of lore about it.

According to an old story, Merton used to love to walk in the woods around campus, where a clearing in the forest – shaped like a heart – remains.

It is visible from a great distance. Those who know of it call it “Merton’s Heart.”

Official sources at St. Bonaventure concur that the story is likely not true – that it’s just a bit of colorful embroidery on the legacy of a famous man.

But there it is. The name remains. It’s even on the walking tour.

“If you come to campus,” said Coughlin, the brother, “you get introduced to Merton’s heart.”

I wanted to post a photo of Merton’s Heart, the clearing mentioned here, but there are only a few online that I could find, which surprises me. This photo is pretty much the exact view from the SBU library’s rear windows (which are gigantic — I really love that building and miss working there sometimes). I often thought about walking up there, but I was never sure where to go or park or if it was even allowed.

Anyway, it’s a really good article, and it quotes a few folks I worked for back in the day. Check it out!

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