|Photo by Bryan Sherwood|
Merton was asked by his friend Miguel Grinberg in Buenos Aires for some journal passages that would describe a "typical day" in his life that could be published in the periodical he edited, Eco Contemporaneo. Merton responded by writing a "journal-like" essay, which he called "Day of a Stranger." The following are excerpts from the first draft of that work, which was later revised.
"I live in the woods out of necessity. I get our of bed in the middle of the night because it is imperative that I hear the silence of the night, alone, and, with my face on the floor, say psalms, alone, in the silence of the night.
"It is necessary for me to live here alone without a woman, for the silence of the forest is my bride and the sweet dark warmth of the whole world is my love, and out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence, but it is the root of all the secrets that are whispered by all the lovers in their beds all over the world. I have an obligation to preserve the stillness, the silence, the poverty, the virginal point of pure nothingness which is at the center of all other loves. I cultivate this plant silently in the middle of the night and water it with psalms and prophecies in silence. It becomes the most beautiful of all the trees in the garden, at once the primordial paradise tree, the axis mundi, the cosmic axle, and the Cross. Nulla silva talem profert [No tree brings forth such].
"It is necessary for me to see the first point of light which begins to be dawn. It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of Day, in the solemn silence at which the sun appears, for at this moment all the affairs of cities, of governments, of war departments, are seen to be the bickerings of mice. I receive from the Eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word DAY, which is never the same. It is always in a totally new language. "
(to be continued)