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When the Trees Say Nothing

edited by Kathleen Deignan; Sorin Books; 2003; 179 pages.

Book Review by Donna Graham, OSF

This wonderful book is a collection of the writings of Trappist Monk Thomas Merton on nature. In the introduction, the editor points out that Merton “had a Franciscan soul.” As a college student he was introduced to the great Franciscan intellectuals, Bonaventure and Duns Scotus, and he found a home with them. They helped him understand the “hidden wholeness of creation.” He learned to celebrate creatures as “sacraments” which reflected the overflowing creativity of God.

In page after page we find creation referred to in very personal ways. We feel Merton’s awareness of the sacredness of all of creation. “The pale flowers of the dogwood outside this window are saints.  The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God. This leaf has its own texture and its own pattern of veins and its own holy shape, and the bass and trout hiding in the deep pools of the river are canonized by their beauty and their strength.”

This book provides much food for thought and creates a space where one can experience the divine in all of creation. It can be used for prayer, reflection, retreat, anytime one takes the time to enter into the mystery of the created world.

Bright Ideas
The most energy-efficient way to dry clothing is to hang it on a clothesline or drying rack. Manufacturers also say that this extends the life of the fabric. But whether you air dry or use a dryer, shake each piece of clothing out first to shake out some wrinkles and open the fibers that get packed together in the spin cycle. Then air can pass through the fabric quickly and easily and dry the clothing faster, which saves money when using a dryer. If you need to use a dryer, make sure it is an ENERGY STAR rated one, which is more energy efficient. And use the moisture sensor feature, which turns off the dryer as soon as the clothes are dry, saving energy. Cleaning the lint filter after each load maximizes air circulation and drying efficiency and reduces a chance of fire due to lint buildup.
Resources / Links
In the Footprints of Francis and the Sultan: A Model for Peacemaking: This 48-minute film by Kathleen Warren, OSF, and Jayasri (Joyce) Hart follows St. Francis of Assisi as he travels to the Middle East to meet Sultan Malek al-Kamil in 1219. This journey becomes a historic symbol for peace as Francis crosses the battle lines of the Crusades and reaches out to the enemy. The film examines contemporary issues of interreligious understanding grounded in the timeless Franciscan tradition of tolerance, peacemaking, and social justice.  Cost is $19.99 which includes resource material for group study. Purchase from Franciscan Media, .
Sensible Shopping: Another little booklet in the “live simply” series of Franciscan Media helps the reader evaluate his/her shopping habits and make better choices. It encourages focusing on needs rather than wants, guarding against greed, being aware of the environmental impact of purchases and gives suggestions for more responsible shopping. You can order it at .
Ethical Eating: This booklet in the “live simply” series from Franciscan Media offers facts, encouragement and practical tips for seeking simplicity in the food we eat.  It helps with choosing more wholesome foods, appreciating the land, animals and farmers that provide it, and understanding the social, economic and environmental ties between physical and spiritual nourishment.  You can order it at
Wholly Healthy: This booklet of the “live simply” series from Franciscan Media offers tips to help you live a simpler life, and to balance your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Cost is $1.99.  Order from Franciscan Media at .
The Holy See
National Catholic Conference of Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC)
Franciscan Media
Zenit: Catholic News from Rome
Order of Friars Minor (OFM) International Web Site
Consistent Life (formerly Seamless Garment Network)
Earth Ministry
Secular Franciscan Order’s Ecology Commission
USCCB Environmental Justice Program
Union of Concerned Scientists
Web of Creation
St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor
Franciscan Action Network (FAN)
The Franciscan Center for Social Concern at St. Bonaventure University
Franciscans International at the United Nations (Geneva and New York)
Bread for the World
Center of Concern in Washington, D.C.
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
National Right to Life Committee
Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Catholic Peace Fellowship
Global Peace Services USA
The Institute for Peace and Justice
Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
Pax Christi USA
1,000 Years of Peace, sponsored by St. Anthony Messenger Press
Teaching Tolerance
Los Alamos Study Group