Lenten Reflection: The Desert Sanctified

(A reading from the wonderful collection of Thomas Merton’s nature writings, When the Trees Say Nothing.  This excerpt was originally published in The Sign of Jonas, p. 280)

“The first Sunday of Lent, as I now know, is a great feast.  Christ has sanctified the desert and in the desert I discovered it.  The woods have all become young in the discipline of spring: but it is the discipline of expectancy only.  Which one cut more keenly?  The February sunlight, or the air?  There are no buds.  Buds are not guessed at or thought of, this early in Lent.  But the wilderness shines with promise.  The land is dressed in simplicity and strength.  Everything foretells the coming of the holy spring.  I had never before spoken so freely or so intimately with woods, hills, birds, water, and sky.  On this great day, however, they understood their position and they remained mute in the presence of the Beloved.  Only His light was obvious and eloquent.  My brother and sister, the light and water.  The stump and the stone.  The tables of rock.  The blue, naked sky.  Tractor tracks, a little waterfall.  And Mediterranean solitude.  I thought of Italy after my Beloved had spoken and was gone.”

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