In the middle of a project, I had to stop to find the source of a Thomas Merton quote I wanted to use. My Internet search proved fruitless, and it seemed like such a waste of valuable work time to start perusing libraries or book stores. I didn't even know where to begin. Then I decided to send an email to my "Merton in the Mountains" retreat director, figuring if anyone could put his finger on this quote quickly, it would be him. So I sent my plea out there into the ether, not expecting too much too soon.
The Merton quote I was using is something I've seen numerous times, but never with a footnote:
"Thich Nhat Hanh is more my brother than many who are nearer to me in race and nationality, because he and I see things in exactly the same way."
Thich Nhat Hanh is an internationally known Zen master, whom I have had the privilege of hearing during an address at Riverside Church in New York City years ago and whose books I have read numerous times.
In less than 15 minutes, I had a return email from my retreat director, giving me not only the title of the source material but the publisher and page number as well. I had struck gold. He also went on to discuss some other spiritual things that began to lift my spirits a bit. Then, before I even had time to digest his first email, another came right behind it. The subject was "Providential Post."
It turns out that my retreat director had just opened an email from his friend Jim Forest, who knew Thomas Merton and is one of his biographers. The email contained a link to Forest's blog post on none other than Thich Nhat Hanh. The connections and timing truly were providential and gave me goosebumps, to be honest. The blog post, which you can read by clicking HERE, included an excerpt from Forest's book, Living With Wisdom, regarding Merton's 1965 meeting with Thich Nhat Hanh.
I read the post and felt my shoulders start to relax. To me it was obvious the Spirit was at work, connecting me with the right person and the right message exactly when I needed it. Then, just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I received one more email from my retreat director and it said this:
"Remember: Emptiness is possibility!"