Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - January 31

The Gift of My Life

(Thomas Merton's birthday; born in 1915 in Prades, France)

A lovely little icon arrived that Bob Rambusch got for us in Salonika, I believe. He had it cleaned in New York and here it is--not astonishingly beautiful but simple and holy and joyous. It radiates a kind of joy and strength that one would not look for or see, if one looked only superficially. I blessed this icon today (it had been sold and lost its consecration by the defiling touch of commerce) and I prayed aloud before it an Eastern prayer and hymn to the icon of Our Lady of Kazan. Her coming is such a great grace--her presence a great comfort. I have placed the icon over the altar of Our Lady in the novitiate chapel.

Why was I always half-convinced I would die young? Perhaps a kind of superstition--the fear of admitting a hope of life which, if admitted, might have to be dashed. But now "I have lived" a fair span of life and, whether or not the fact be important, nothing can alter it. It is certain, infallible--even though that too is only a kind of dream. If I don't make it to sixty-five, it matters less. I can relax. But life is a gift I am glad of, and I do not curse the day when I was born. On the contrary, if I had never been born I would never have friends to love and be loved by, never have made mistakes to learn from, never have seen new countries, and, as for what I may have suffered, it is inconsequential and indeed part of the great good which life has been and will, I hope, continue to be.

January 31, 1960, III.372-73

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