Friday, May 27, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - May 27

Visiting the Brothers

The long yellow side of the monastery faces the sun on a sharp rise with fruit trees and beehives. I climb sweating into the novitiate, put down the water bottle on the cement floor. The bell is ringing. I have some duties in the monastery. When I have accomplished these, I return to the woods. In the choir are the young monks, patient, serene, with very clear eyes, thin, reflective, gentle. For fifteen years I have given them classes, these young ones who come, and grow thin, become more reflective, more silent. But many of them are concerned with questions. Questions of liturgy, questions of psychology, questions of history. Are they the right questions? In the woods there are other questions and other answers, for in the woods the whole world is naked and directly present, with no monastery to veil it.

Chanting the Alleluia in the second mode; strength and solidity of the Latin, seriousness of the second mode, built on the Re as to an inevitable center. Sol-Re, Fa-Re, Sol-Re, Do-Re. Many other notes in between, but suddenly one hears only the one note. Consonantia: all notes, in their perfect distinctness, are yet blended in one.

In the heat of noon I return through the cornfield, past the barn under the oaks, up the hill, under the pines, to the hot cabin. Larks rise out of the long grass singing. A bumblebee hums under the wide shady eaves.

May 1965, V.241-42

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