Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 9

The Freedom of True Prayer

Yesterday when I went down to the monastery to say Mass, all the community, or a large group rather, were out gathering in the potato harvest under a blue late-summer sky, and I remembered the communal beauty of work in this season—the sense of brotherhood and joy when I used to go over with the students to cut tobacco twelve years ago! Or cutting corn in my novitiate. Now that is all done by machine and there is little really common work outdoors. Anyway, I felt lonely seeing them out there.

In the evening: this turned into a beautiful, clear, cool afternoon and evening. After supper I walked outside the gate to the hermitage enclosure and said some psalms, read and meditated a bit looking out over the bottoms and across at the green, cool line of the hills. It all came alive (as it all should be), and I realized then that I had been running the risk, these past few days, of tying myself down with a mental delusion—taking the hermitage too seriously and myself with it—identifying myself with this stupid little cottage as if my whole life were bound up with it. What total absurdity! Looking at the hills and recovering the freedom of true prayer (of which, incidentally, I have had so much in the hermitage, too), I realized that what is important is not the house, not the hermit image, but my own self and my sonship as a child of God. It is good to see that things which are supposed to be media between ourselves and Him so easily get in the way and become obstacles. I am determined not to fool myself with any such nonsense.

August 28, 1965, V.286-87

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