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  • John Diamond-Nigh

Kentucky rain

I was delighted to get some pushback on the last piece. Maybe I stated things poorly.

I have nothing at all against politics as a wide net of dreams and justice. Lynne and I participate in that every day. Just not a fan of fundamentalism––that shrill and featherless bird that can land anywhere on the political spectrum, from a church pew to a university lectern.

As for religion, well, I just think the embrace of earth’s worst demagogues needs looking at. But no offense was intended.

I love the comments everyone sends. And thanks to Lynne for pruning and ushering each post into the world. I’m such a digital nincompoop.

I’ll keep things simple this week. Following is a wonderful passage written by a poet, hermit and monk who I have loved since adolescence. Thomas Merton was a member of a Trappist monastery in Kentucky where he lived alone in a small cottage in woods on the monastery premises. He’s widely known as a metaphysical writer, a considerable poet, a fine photographer as well as an avid ecumenicist. Not as a great cook.

So, to that list of sensual comforts I enumerated a week or so ago––silence, snow, etc.––add Kentucky rain.

‘The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the wood with an immense and

confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and

controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole

world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.

I came up here from the monastery last night, sloshing through the cornfield, said Vespers, and put some oatmeal on the Coleman stove for supper. It boiled over while I was listening to the rain and toasting a piece of bread at the log fire. The night became very dark. The rain surrounded the whole cabin with its enormous virginal myth, a whole world of meaning, of secrecy, of silence, of rumor. Think of it: all the speech pouring down, selling nothing, judging nobody, drenching the thick mulch of dead leaves, soaking the trees, filling the gullies and crannies of the wood with water, washing out the places where men have stripped the hillside. What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest at night, cherished by this wonderful, unintelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows.

Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.’

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