"As a Thomas Merton aficionado I knew that the famous American Trappist had always kept up a considerable correspondence. But how great it was only became apparent when the first volume of his collected letters thumped through the letter-box a few weeks ago. Admirably edited by Father Thomas Shannon under the title 'The Hidden Ground of Love' ... A further three volumes are to follow ... In quality they are a marvellous example of a dynamic art, and in bulk rival Merton's published work".
The author reflects on the failure to respond to a letter. But when all the excuses are done the fact remains that one of the great pleasures of life is receiving a lively, gossipy, personal letter that makes a real contact between minds and hearts, a letter that may not be 'literary' but bears the stamp of individual character, observation, new-minted thoughts. A letter, moreover, that unlike a telephone call can be taken out and re-read any number of times ... In some ways our century is leaving a legacy of images and information -- in films, documentaries, radio and television programs, still photographs, sound recordings -- greater than any other. But, I suspect that future historians will miss the legacy of personal letters left by previous generations, which reveal the relationships between people, both the great and lowly ...". "Letters have another virtue. They show generosity of spirit in the sender and are a compliment to the receiver. They take time and trouble to write and and even the most ill-written letter is flattering evidence that someone thought it worth dedicating that time and trouble to the recipient".