Like Saint Francis of Assisi, although to a secondary extent, Merton has mentored Gerry’s spiritual exercises of remembering, of being awed by, and of obeying the commands of God’s love, received throughout his community’s days at the Santa Chiara Children’s Center. His prose is undergirded with the poetry of his longing for God’s presence in and for Haiti hour by hour. Gerry’s prose and life resonate with Merton’s texts. This book befriends Merton’s own searching for God. Straub and Merton sing together, adding their voices to the chorus of God’s beloved community in Haiti.
-From the Introduction by Jonathan Montaldo
His new book, Reading Thomas Merton and Longing for God in Haiti: Learning Wisdom in the School of My Life, shares what he has learned spiritually over the last eight years of growing Santa Chiara’s Children Center into a refuge of love and safety for children born into in a land of poverty and violence.
The Sunrise of the Soul is the fruit of the last 24 years of Gerry Straub’s unexpected new life and journey of transformation that took him from the glamour of Hollywood to the horror of the worst slums on earth. From being a network television producer to making documentary films on global poverty. Gerry now lives in a crowded slum in Haiti where he operates a home of hope and healing called the Santa Chiara Children’s Center for 69 abandoned kids, 24 of whom are still in diapers. His photographs and journals of his young kids and coworkers living at the center are icons for those all over the world who are famished for love and our concern.
Living in a home with sixty-nine kids in Haiti means stillness and silence are virtually nonexistent. After four years of intense work in Haiti, Gerry now commits himself to the rejuvenating power of authentic solitude in order to turn his attention to his own inner spiritual poverty. In the silent predawn darkness of each Haitian morning he waits, reflects and prays for two hours. This book emerged slowly from those many lonely hours of silence.