Sunday, June 26, 2005, 9:39AM. I just drove out to the Alfred to take communion to friend from St Peter's. This was the first time I had done this and it was a good experience, felt right and like a stretch. I don’t think I could write about it much, except that it felt like a right extension of the ministry I’ve had with this person and it brought me great joy. That’s enough to say.
Yesterday went well. I was feeling tired on Friday afternoon, then had some friends to dinner, which went well. But it was wonderful to take shoes off after they left and to know that I could keep them off for awhile, could actually sleep in and not shave the next day if I didn't want to.
I ended up shaving, but I did sleep in, then drank coffee and read some of “Thomas Merton, The Intimate Journal” in bed. I finally got dressed and started to clean the house. There were still shirts that hadn’t been ironed since getting back from the trip. I ended up getting a lot done, with some major neatening, which makes my inner compulsive-organiser feel good. But I also spend over an hour looking at other peoples photos on Flicker.com, a photo site. I had though of going to a museum or gallery, but this did the trick, gave me a space to consider other peoples clear vision. One guy in Boston did a series of portraits that were so simple and loving and good, it was like a massage to look at them. That’s what I go to a gallery for, cleansing the sight.
The Merton book is also good for that. It’s a careful selection from all the journals he kept over the years and I think it is a good overview of Merton’s process and style, gives a sense of the music of his mind, the way he saw and considered things. I have read him since I was in my early twenties and he still speaks to me with his authentic voice, his passion and concern in articulating what is might mean for God to dwell in flesh, his flesh, Jesus’ flesh, our flesh. He tries to be a place to incarnate that awareness and that gift in the midst of his daily life; as a monk, a moody man, a member of world living in the centre of the 20th century, even while being based in a cenobitic – and though his efforts, eremitic and contemptive – monastic community in the middle of Kentucky.
And his struggle with balancing all of that gives me hope and helps me to frame the struggle I live with, keeping conscious and awake and alive in the middle of a world that is often too noisy and settles for too little. Merton’s words keep me sharp in the struggle to remember what is most important. How simple that is, and how difficult – at least for me – to keep it simple.
Here’s a quote from the book that I liked:
April 16, 1956
Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitely rich, full of inexhaustible interest opening out onto the infinite possibilities opening out into the infinite further possibilities for study and contemplation and interest and praise. Beyond all and in all is God.
Perhaps the book of life, in the end, is the book of what one has lived and, of one has lived nothing, he is not is not in the book of Life.
I have always wanted to write about everything. That does not mean to write a book that “covers” everything – which would be impossible. But a book in which everything can go. A book with a little of everything that creates itself out of everything. That has its own life. A faithful book. I no longer look at it as a “book.”