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DAY OF A STRANGER is an intimate portrait of a world-renown mystic and author during his final years living in solitude from 1965 until his shocking death in 1968. As a Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton became a prolific writer and was in dialogue with some of the twentieth century’s most influential figures, luminaries such as D.T. Suzuki, Rachel Carson, Henry Miller, Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorothy Day. Interweaving meditative images of his hermitage nestled deep in the woods of Kentucky and rare audio recordings he made in isolation; the film pieces together a glimpse into the consciousness of one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant minds. 

This film explores the final years of Merton’s life when he moved to a hermitage on his monastery property. While there, he continued to write, take photos, and even record audio that included excerpts from his journal, thoughts within the day, and more. The film pieces together footage from his hermitage alongside some never before heard audio which our team gained exclusive access to.

From 1965 until his death in 1968, Merton lived in this small hermitage on the Gethsemani Abbey property in the woods of central Kentucky. The film focuses on this specific time period and the important work that emerged from this tiny cabin in the woods.

“Sermon to the birds: ‘Esteemed friends, birds of noble lineage, I have no message to you except this: be what you are: be birds. Thus you will be your own sermon to yourselves!’ Reply: ‘Even this is one sermon too many!’”

— Thomas Merton (Day of a Stranger, p.51)