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by Fred Bahnson in Emergence Magazine

Film by Jeremy Seifert

In May 1968, Christian mystic Thomas Merton undertook a pilgrimage to the American West. Fifty years later, filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and writer Fred Bahnson set out to follow Merton’s path, retracing the monk’s journey across the landscape. Amid stunning backdrops of ocean, redwood, and canyon, the film features the faces and voices of people Merton encountered. The essay offers a more intimate meditation on Merton’s life and the relevance of the spiritual journey today. FOR MORE

Listen to this StoryNarrated by Fred Bahnson


Fred Bahnson is the author of Soil and Sacrament, and his essays have appeared in Harper’sThe SunOrionOxford American, and Best American Spiritual Writing. His essay “On the Road with Thomas Merton,” originally published in Emergence Magazine, was selected by Robert MacFarlane for Best American Travel Writing 2020. He is a recipient of a W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Fellowship, a North Carolina Artist Fellowship, and a Terry Tempest Williams Fellowship for Land and Justice at the Mesa Refuge. He lives with his family in southwestern Montana.


Jeremy Seifert is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His feature films include The Devil We KnowGMO OMG, and DIVE! Living Off America’s Waste. His films for Emergence Magazine include The Church Forests of Ethiopia and On the Road with Thomas Merton.

Icon produced by Ellen Schon,  2020

art and education, ecology, history, natural world, poetry, spirituality

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