Blessed greenness 2

Photo from Contemplative Monk FB page

By the 1960s Thomas Merton was writing more and more about nature, and some of his loveliest writings are found in his journal ‘Dancing in the Water of Life’.

This description comes from late April 1964:

‘Real Spring weather – these are the precise days when everything changes. All the trees are fast beginning to be in leaf and the first green freshness of a new summer is all over the hills. Irreplaceable purity of these few days chosen by God as His sign!

Mixture of heavenliness and anguish. Seeing “heavenliness” suddenly for instance in the pure, pure, white of the mature dogwood blossoms against the dark evergreens in the cloudy garden. “Heavenliness” too of the song of the unknown bird that is perhaps here only for these days, passing through, a lovely, deep, simple song. Pure – no pathos, no statement, no desire, pure heavenly sound. Seized by this “heavenliness” as if I were a child – a child mind I have never done anything to deserve to have and which is my own part in the heavenly spring. Not of this world, or of my making. Born partly of physical anguish (which is really not there though. It goes quickly). Sense that the “heavenliness” is the real nature of things not their nature, not en soi, but the fact they are a gift of love, and of freedom.’

Here Merton also offers us an image of the tension of the opposites – which is always present and in everything: including the loveliness of spring but the transience of the season. He decides that the heavenliness or the sacred heart of everything is the essence of creation, but offers us the phrase of physical anguish. Is it that the joy can only be seen in opposition to the sorrow, the rebirth in the light of death, and the blessed greenness as the contrast with the bare branches that precedes the spring growth.

In the following journal entries Merton continues with the idea of the “heavenliness” of the blessed greenness, describing the hills as clothed in green sweaters and the light green of the new leaves on a tulip polar. All feels clean and fresh as if washed clean. He sees this season as one where we are given a glimpse of a reality which is that all of creation has a heavenly existence. Everything is transformed in this rebirth of creation.