Haec dicit Dominus: quomodo si inveniatur granum in botro et
dicatur: ne dissipes illud quoniam benedictio est; Sic faciam propter
servos meos ut non disperdam totum.
Thus saith the Lord: As if a grain be found in a cluster, and
it be said: Destroy it not, because it is a blessing: so will I do for
the sake of my servants, that I may not destroy the whole.
Ad quem autem respiciam nisi ad pauperculum et contritum spiritu
et trementem sermones meos.
But to whom shall I look but to him that is poor and little,
and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words?
Intrans in domum meam conquiescam cum sapientia: non enim habet
amaritudinem conversatio illius, nec taedium convictus illius, sed
laetitiam et gaudium.
When I go into my house, I shall repose myself with wisdom: for her
conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but
joy and gladness.
* See note on following page.
Merton's selection of texts under the
title, "Office of Hermits", begins in this notebook after
November, 1964 and continues through and beyond his fiftieth birthday,
January 31, 1965. Since there were many indications he would soon be
allowed to live in the hermitage permanently, the annual retreat of
January 18-26 was especially important. Merton's "Office for
Hermits" may well have been conceived and begun during this annual
Mott, pp. 410-412
events preceding Merton's
birthday.] How much of Merton's "office" was gathered on his
birthday is impossible to accurately gauge. Was it more than page 50?
Was it limited only to the quotation of Sap 8:16 marked by Merton's
marginalia which signals its importance? Merton's birth date at this
place may well have been added later by him, though this does not
lessen the significance of either the entire page or the one
passage. In any case, the passages of Merton's "office" can be
allowed to "sing" with journal entries marked as written on the
vigil of his birthday and the anniversary itself (Jan. 30-31, 1965):
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 all that
now, because that is going to be the struggle and 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, God's demand, that is, that I
remove obstacles to His giving me all these. Snow, silence, the
talking fire, the watch on the table, sorrow. What would be the use of
going over all this? I will just get cleaned up (my hands are dirty)
and say the Psalms of my birthday:
'Yet you drew me out of the womb
you entrusted me to my mother's breast placed on your lap from my
birth from my mother's womb you have been my God'
(Jan 30) I can
imagine no greater cause for gratitude on my fiftieth birthday than:
that, on it, I woke up in a hermitage. Fierce cold all night,
... . Inside the house, it almost froze, though embers still glowed
under the ashes in the fireplace. The cold woke me up at one point, but
I adjusted the blankets and went back to sleep. What more do I seek
than this silence, this simplicity, this living together with
wisdom ? For me, there is nothing else...
A Vow of Conversation
, pp. 141-142.