Living in the Only Real City in America
(Thomas Merton becomes an American citizen on June 26, 1951)
Octave of Corpus Christi. Once again, the cloister is paved with flowers, the sanctuary white-hot under the floodlights concealed behind the pillars, high in the ceiling: and you look up at the monstrance through a cloud of hot, sweet smoke from the censer, and the sweat runs down into your eyes! I feel as though I had never been anywhere in the world except Gethsemani—as if there were no other place in the world where I had ever really lived. I do not say I love Gethsemani in spite of the heat, or because of the heat. I love Gethsemani: that means burning days and nights in summer, with the sun beating down on the metal roof and the psalms pulsing exultantly through the airless choir while row upon row of us, a hundred and forty singers, sway forward and bow down. And the clouds of smoke go up to God in the sanctuary, and the novices get thin and go home forever.
June 1952, II.471