Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - September 11

Seeing Deerness

Magenta mist outside the windows. A cock crows over at Boone's. Last evening, when the moon was rising, saw the warm, burning, soft red of a doe in the field. It was still light enough, so I got the field glasses and watched her. Presently a stag came out, then I saw a second doe and, briefly, another stag. They were not afraid. Looked at me from time to time. I watched their beautiful running, grazing. Everything, every movement, was completely lovely, but there is a kind of gaucheness about them sometimes that makes them even lovelier. The thing that struck me most: one sees, looking at them directly in movement, just what the cave painters saw--something that I have never seen in a photograph. It is an awe-inspiring thing--the Mantu or "spirit" shown in the running of the deer, the "deerness" that sums up everything and is saved and marvelous. A contemplative intuition! Yet perfectly ordinary, everyday seeing. The deer reveals to me something essential in myself! Something beyond the trivialities of my everyday being and my individuality. The stag is much darker, a mouse grey or rather a warm grey-brown, like a flying squirrel. I could sense the softness of their coat and longed to touch them.

September 6, 1965, V.291

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