Holy Week Reflection: Thomas Merton

(From the wonderful little collection of Thomas Merton writings, When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature, this particular piece was originally published in Turning Toward the World, p. 312.)

“The other day there was a beautiful whistling of titmice – and now today one of them lay dead on the grass under the house, which may well have been some fault of mine, as we dumped some calcium chloride on a couple of anthills – not as a poison but as something to move them elsewhere.  What a miserable bunch of foolish idiots we are!  We kill everything around us even when we think we love  and respect nature and life.  This sudden power to deal death all around us simply by the way we live, and in total ‘innocence’ and ignorance, is by far the most disturbing symptom of our time.  I hope I at least can learn, but in the light of Holy Week I see, again, all my own internal contradictions – not all!  Hardly!  But the fact that I am full of them.  And that we all are.

A phenomenal number of species of animals and birds have become extinct in the last fifty years – due of course to man’s irruption into ecology.

There was still a covey of quail around here in early fall.  Now I don’t hear a single whistle, or hear a wing beat.”

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