Friday, December 2, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - December 2

Love Born Out of Prayer in Seclusion

"Love comes from prayer and prayer from remaining in seclusion" (Isaac of Syria). Certainly the break in my more solitary routine (going down to the monastery earlier without the long meditation, spending most of the day there, ceremonies, lectures, etc.) has created a kind of confusion, disturbance and laxity. Solitude is not something to play with from time to time. And yet of course I still need a good part of the common life, and will always need to maintain very definite contacts. But it is hard and confusing to be uprooted from peace every time you begin barely to get into it--or rather, not to be able to sink completely into unity and simplicity. There is peace too in community, of course, but it has a different and more active rhythm.

Yet, in this solitude there must be, with the fiery substance of the eternal prophets, also the terse anger and irony and humor of the Latin American poets with whom I am united in bonds of warmth and empathy, for instance, the Peruvian Blanca Varela (I must translate her, a poem or two), or Jorge Eduardo Eielson!

At last there is light again. First there were some stars here and there, when I first got up at 2:15. Then a surprise--in an unexpected corner of woods, the thin last slice of leftover moon. The sun came up at 8:05 (our time here is unnatural, as we are on Eastern standard). Then there was the extraordinary purity and stillness and calm of that moment of surprise and renewal. Peace of the woods and the valley, but then somewhere a heifer salutes the morning with enthusiastic lowing.

December 29, 1964, V.184-85

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