Monday, January 30, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - January 30

On the Eve of a Birthday

Snow, silence, the talking fire, the watch on the table. Sorrow. I will get cleaned up (my hands are dirty). I will sing the psalms of my birthday.

No matter what mistakes and illusions have marked my life, most of it I think has been happiness and, as far as I can tell, truth. There were whole seasons of insincerity, largely when I was under twenty-one and followed friends that were not my own kind. But after my senior year at Columbia things got straight. I can remember many happy and illumined days and whole blocks of time. There were a few nightmare times in childhood. But at Saint Antonin, with Father, life was a revelation. Then again, at so many various times and places, in Sussex (at Rye and in the country), at Oakham, at Strasbourg, at Rome above all, in New York, especially upstate Olean and St. Bonaventure's. I remember one wonderful winter morning arriving at Olean to spend Christmas with Bob Lax. Arrivals and departures on the Erie were generally great. The cottage on the hill, too--then Cuba: wonderful days there. All this I have said before and the whole world knows it.

The profoundest and happiest times of my life have been in and around Gethsemani, and also some of the most terrible. Mostly the happy moments were in the woods and fields, alone, with the sky and the sun, and up here at the hermitage. And with the novices (afternoons at work).

January 30, 1965, V.198-99

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