Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - April 20

God's Vestige in His Creatures
Yesterday I was sitting in the woodshed reading and a little Carolina wren suddenly hopped onto my shoulder and then onto the corner of the book I was reading and paused a second to take a look at me before flying away.
There is something you cannot know about a wren by cutting it up in a laboratory and that you can know only if it remains fully and completely a wren, itself, and hops on your shoulder if it feels like it.
A tame animal is already invested with a certain falsity by its tameness. By becoming what we want it to be, it takes a disguise that we have decided to impose upon it.
Even a wild animal merely "observed" is not seen as it really is, but rather in the light of our investigation (color changed by fluorescent lighting). But people who watch birds and animals are already wise in their way.
I want not only to observe but to know living things, and this implies a dimension of primordial familiarity that is simple and primitive and religious and poor. This is the reality I need, the vestige of God in His creatures.
April 5, 1958, III. 189-90


  1. The pic is (obviously) not a Carolina wren, but watching this cardinal share Tina's birdseed was one of those moments for me.