Merton entered his hermitage on a full-time basis on August 20, 1965, the feast day of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercian Doctor of the Church. On August 21, 1965, Merton wrote this in his journal:
"This morning-grey, cool, peace. The unquestionable realization of the rightness of this, because it is from God and it is His work. So much could be said! What is immediately perceptible is the immense relief, the burden of ambiguity is lifted, and I am without care-no anxiety about being pulled between my job and my vocation. I feel as if my whole being were an act of thankfulness-even the gut is relaxed and at peace after good meditation and long study of Irenaeus. The woods all around crackle with guerrilla warfare-the hunters are out for squirrel season (as if there were a squirrel left!). Even this idiot ritual does not make me impatient. In their mad way they love the woods too: but I wish their way were less destructive and less of a lie."
[Note: the above quote is this week’s Merton reflection from the Merton Institute.]