Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Abbey of Gethsemani and Bardstown Kentucky

I've spent a few days wandering around Bardstown and The Abbey of Gehtsemani, the Trappist monastery southwest about 20 minutes. It’s been great to absorb the place after writing about Thomas Merton. I met some interesting people:

- Jeannette and Jim Cantrell. Jeanette runs the Thomas Merton Bookstore and Jim’s Gallery in their home. Jim painted the landscape of Gethsemani above. Beautiful. Lovely people.
- Tom Isaac is the lead reporter at The Kentucky Standard newspaper. He knew Merton and shared his impressions of the time of my play, December 1966. He arrived in Bardstown as young reporter in October of that year.
- Mammy’s Kitchen on 3rd Street in Bardstown was my rest place, writing haunt, with great food. Their chocolate pie is killer. Try the bourbon glazed pork chops. Wowza.
- Visited the soda fountain in Hurst’s Pharmacy…it’s in two scenes of my play, Conscience Matter.
- The abbey was quiet both days when I visited. So nice to just wander about.

I wrote a great deal in my journal and will try to distill some of that soon. Much to think about but what struck me as amazing was how the place and the atmosphere is how I imagined it thanks to Thomas Merton’s journals. He painted the area well with his words. Jim Cantrell painted it lovely as well. I’m taking the painting home as no photograph captures the atmosphere for me like this interpretation of his. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to make this journey, and I will return in the Spring.

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