Wednesday, February 1

honey in the lamplight

Vigil of my fiftieth birthday. A bright, snowy afternoon, delicate blue clouds of snow blowing down off the frozen trees ... The past: I am inarticulate about it now ... I suppose I regret most my lack of love, my selfishness and glibness (covering a deep shyness and need of love) with girls who, after all, did love me, I think, for a time. My great fault was my inability really to believe it and my efforts to get complete assurance and perfect fulfillment ... What I find most in my whole life is illusion. Wanting to be something of which I have formed a concept. I hope I will get free of that now because that is going to be a struggle. Yet I have to be something that I ought to be -- I have to meet a certain demand for order and inner light and tranquillity ... Snow, silence, the talking fire, the watch on the table. Sorrow. What would be the use of going into all of this? I will get cleaned up (my hands are dirty) ... [S]o many misunderstand the meaning of contemplation and solitude and condemn it. But I no longer have the slightest need to argue with them. I have nothing to justify and nothing to defend. I need only defend this vast simple emptiness from my own self, and the rest is clear... The beautiful jeweled shining of honey in the lamplight. Festival!

-- Thomas Merton (b. 31 January 1915), from journal entries for 30 January 1965 and 31 January 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life