Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - January 3

New Year's Darkness

The year struggles with its own blackness.

Dark, wet mush of snow under frozen rain for two days. Everything is curtained in purple greyness and ice. Fog gets in the throat. A desolation of wetness and waste, turning to mud.

Only New Year's Day was bright. Very cold. Everything hard and sparkling, trees heavy with snow. I went for a walk up the side of the Vineyard Knob, on the road to the fire tower, in secret hope of "raising the sparks" (as the Hassidim say), and they rose a little. It was quiet, but too bright, as if this celebration belonged not to the New Year or to any year.

More germane to this new year is darkness, wetness, ice and cold, the scent of illness.

But maybe this is good. Who can tell?

The morning was dark, with a harder bluer darkness than yesterday. The hills stood out stark and black, the pines were black over thin pale sheets of snow. A more interesting and tougher murkiness. Snowflakes began to blow when I went down to the monastery from the hermitage, but by 10:30 the sun was fairly out and it was rapidly getting colder.

Evening--new moon--snow hard crackling and squealing under my rubber boots. The dark pines over the hermitage. The graceful black fans and branches of the tall oaks between my field and the monastery. I said Compline and looked at the cold valley and tasted its peace. Who is entitled to such peace? I don't know. But I would be foolish to leave it for no reason.

January 3 and 4, 1968, VII.32-33

1 comment:

  1. Most of the time, I use public domain photos for these reflections. This one happens to be a pic of the road leading out of my apartment complex almost one year ago today, when I enjoyed a forced retreat due to snow and ice. It seems to fit Merton's description perfectly.

    Psalm 147

    1 Praise the Lord!
    For it is good to sing praises to our God;
    for it is pleasant,a and a song of praise is fitting.
    2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
    3 He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
    4 He determines the number of the stars;
    he gives to all of them their names.
    5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
    6 The Lord lifts up the humble;b
    he casts the wicked to the ground.

    7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
    make melody to our God on the lyre!
    8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
    he prepares rain for the earth;
    he makes grass grow on the hills.
    9 He gives to the beasts their food,
    and to the young ravens that cry.
    10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
    nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
    11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love.

    12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
    Praise your God, O Zion!
    13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
    he blesses your children within you.
    14 He makes peace in your borders;
    he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
    15 He sends out his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
    16 He gives snow like wool;
    he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
    17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
    who can stand before his cold?
    18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
    he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
    19 He declares his word to Jacob,
    his statutes and rulesc to Israel.
    20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
    they do not know his rules.d
    Praise the Lord!