Sunday, December 11, 2011
A Year With Thomas Merton - December 11
Wanting to Start Over
While I was saying Mass, at my Communion, I heard the bells ring for an agony--one of the monks is dying--and guessed they were for Brother Gerard (they rang for thee!), and he died about an hour later. Another of the old brothers, the past dying.
A distant relative sent an old snapshot taken when he and his wife visited Douglaston--where I lived with my grandparents--thirty years ago. It shows them with Bonnemaman and myself--and the back porch of the house, and the birch tree. There is Bonnemaman as I remember her--within two years of her dying. And there am I: it shakes me! I am the young rugby player, the lad from Cambridge, vigorous, light, vain, alive, obviously making a joke of some sort. The thing shakes me. I can see that that was a different body from the one I have now--one entirely young and healthy, one that did not know sickness, weakness, anguish, tension, fatigue--a body totally assured of itself and with care, perfectly relaxed, ready for enjoyment. What a change since that day! If I were wiser, I would not mind, but I am not so sure I am wiser. I have been through more, I have endured a lot of things, perhaps fruitlessly. I do not entirely think that--but it is possible. What shakes me is that--I wish I were that rugby player, vain, vigorous, etc., and could start over again! And yet how absurd. What would I ever do? Those were, no matter how you look at it, better times! There things we had not heard of--Auschwitz, the Bomb, etc. (Yet it was all beginning, nevertheless).
December 21, 1965, V.325-26