Fr. Dan Horan notes that today would have been the great writer’s 99th birthday, and quotes from Merton’s journal on his last birthday, in 1968:
Clear, thin new moon appearing and disappearing between slow slate blue clouds – and the living black skeletons of the trees against the evening sky. More artillery than usual whumping at [Fort] Knox. It is my fifty-third birthday.
Merton noted his birth differently in The Seven Storey Mountain. He begins the story of his life this way:
God bless you, Fr. Louis. And thank you.
On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war , and down in the shadow of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God and yet hating Him; born to love Him, living instead in fear and hopeless self-contradictory hungers.
Paying a visit to Thomas Merton’s hermitage at the Abbey of Gethsemane in 2004.