Friday, December 23, 2011
A Year With Thomas Merton - December 23
Suspended over Nothingness and Yet in Life
A charming letter from Eleanor Shipley Duckett, who, on returning to Smith College from England (Cambridge), found some notes I had sent and is making them her "Advent reading." I am very attracted to her. She is a sweet person. She wrote part of her letter in Latin. Though I have so far not had much contact with her (it began when the University of Michigan Press sent proofs of her Carolingian Portraits), I feel we can be very good friends, that this friendship can be really precious to us both--with the autumn quality of detachment that comes from the sense that we are coming to the end of our lives (she must be quite older than I, in her sixties, I presume). This sense of being suspended over nothingness and yet in life, of being a fragile thing, a flame that may blow out and yet burns brightly, adds an inexpressible sweetness to the gift of life, for one sees it entirely and purely as a gift. A gift that one must treasure in great fidelity with a truly pure heart.
December 15, 1962, IV.275-76