Saturday, August 07, 2004

Yesterday marked the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I am so glad that today I'm going to be at a peace conference; it will be nice to be among others who hope we'll never have other similarly horrible anniversaries to mark.

As I was doing some websearching about the anniversary, I came upon an article about a recent movie, Original Child Bomb. The article ends with this passage:

>>But the most touching detail regarding religion and the bomb, in this reviewer’s opinion, comes early in the film. (I could not find it in Merton’s poem, so its inclusion is a masterstroke). It seems to sum up everything this votive, compelling, cautionary work attempts to convey about the suffering nuclear weapons hold in store for humanity: “U.S. airman Matthew McGunigle photographed the Hiroshima blast. After the war, he entered a monastery and took a vow of silence.” >>

Matthew McGunigle was my husband Matt McGunigle's great uncle (and namesake.) The family called him Monkle Matt. Monkle died before I was born, but I feel as if I know him--we have his collected letters from Gethsemane, which are amazing--funny and wise. We also have a small leather box filled with his various military pins and ribbons, and a collection of poetry that Monkle gave my husband upon his high school graduation.

Monkle asked before his death that the family keep his letters unpublished, which of course I want to honor, but at the same time, I wish his voice, in its silence, could be heard. He had an important message to share--he had witnessed the darkest side of human behavior and countered that with his own light. I am glad to know that his actions have been documented (or at least acknowledged) on film. I contacted the filmmakers to see if we can get a copy of the movie; it would be an amazing thing for the family to watch together, for the family to hold on to. Maybe we can view it while we eat the cheese the family orders from the Gethsemane monastery every year (those monks sure know how to make cheese!)--we could taste the milk of Monk's human kindness as his name flickers before our eyes.

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