This is not a hermitage--it is a house. ("Who was that hermitage I seen you with last night?...") What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. Who said Zen? Wash out your mouth if you said Zen. If you see a meditation going by, shoot it. Who said "Love?" Love is in the movies. The spiritual life is something that people worry about when they are so busy with something else they think they ought to be spiritual. Spiritual life is guilt. Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that is to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it. Is it supposed to be clear? I am not inviting anybody to try it. Or suggesting that one day the message will come saying NOW. That is none of my business. (Thomas Merton Day of a Stranger 1981)
What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe.
Merton teaches us that the spiritual life is nothing special. It is life itself. This life.
I awake this morning before dawn and step out into the dim light of this spring day. My morning psalms are the what-cheer cheer cheer of the cardinal, the caw of crows calling off in the distance, the gentle fee-bee song of the chickadee. The yard is almost empty of snow. White pine branches broken off from the ice storm earlier this winter litter the ground. A mug of freshly brewed tea warms my hands.
(Photo by Thomas Merton of hermitage porch at Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky)