December with Thomas Merton – week 5

Merton writes about the year ahead – it’s 1968.

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 Vineyard Knob, on the road to the fire tower, in secret hope of ‘raising the sparks’ (as the Hasidim 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 that is good. Who can tell?’

Kentucky Knobs in Winter

The next day in the evening the snow has become very hard and Merton writes of the dark pines over the hermitage. He looks at the graceful black fans and branches of the tall oaks between his field and the monastery. As he says Compline looking out of the cold valley he tastes the peace. ‘Who is entitled to such peace? I don’t know. But I would be foolish to leave it for no reason.’