Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - October 8

A Different Sense of Time

Last night I slept in the monastery, because spiritual direction ran late and my shoulder also was hurting, so that I wanted the traction which is fixed up on my bed in the novitiate dorm. Sleeping at the hermitage gives one a totally different sense of time--measured by the phases of the moon (whether or not one will need the flashlight, etc.). This in itself is important. The whole day has different dimensions. And so for office in choir, its artificiality impresses me more and more. Not that it is not a "good thing." Not that there is not a great will to do good and praise God there. But the whole d├ęcor of habits and stalls and stained glass seems unreal when you have been praying the psalms among pine trees. The thing I most appreciate about the monastery is the electric light. The lamplight of the hermitage is primitive and mysterious, but the lamp smokes and one cannot read well by it. Which is all right since it means more meditation. Yet I like and need to sit here with a book open and really read, take notes, study.

As to the brethren, it is good to be with them and to see them (even though I know them enough to recognize their tensions and troubles), but I can tell that a feeling of loneliness for them would probably be a deception--or a reflex. One can love them and still live apart from them without explanation.

October 19, 1964, V.158

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