Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - July 19

Landscapes of Contemplation

How beautiful it was last evening with a longer interval after supper. The sun was higher than it usually is in that interval, and I saw the country in a light that I usually do not see. The low-slanting rays picked out the foliage of the trees and highlighted a new wheat field against the dark curtain of woods on the knobs that were in shadow. Deep peace. Sheep on the slopes behind the sheep barn. The new trellises in the novitiate garden leaning and sagging. A cardinal singing suddenly in the walnut tree, and piles of fragrant logs all around in the woodshed, waiting to be cut in bad weather.

I looked at all this in great tranquility, with my soul and spirit quiet. For me landscape seems to be important for contemplation. Anyway, I have no scruples about loving it.

Didn’t St. John of the Cross hide himself in a room up in a church tower where there was one small window through which he could look out at the country?

Benedictine tranquility. Pax. That’s what I think about. I have more of it perhaps because I am less mixed up today in peculiar tensions of desire and pride that come from fighting the will of God in an obscure way, under the pretext of a greater good.

There is only one way to peace: be reconciled that of yourself you are what you are, and it might not be especially magnificent, what you are! God has His own plan for making something else of you, and it is a plan which you are mostly too dumb to understand.

July 2, 1948, II.216-17

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