Wednesday, June 04, 2014
John Howard Griffin, Thomas Merton's long-time friend and biographer, spent six months living in Merton's hermitage after his death, reading his diaries and notes, soaking in solitude both internally and externally, using the solitude as a lens to see more deeply into Merton's life.
I'm outside today in the hermitage that is my back yard, alone until tonight, trying to use the solitude and stillness of the day as a lens to pick through the many threads and find one compelling enough to bring someone else into the "immense silence."
"You shall not possess any beast, my dear sisters, except only a cat." — from the Ancrene Wisse, Part 8: Of Domestic Matters 
I've been re-reading the Ancrene Wisse - a handbook for novice anchoresses written in the late 14th century, which talks about the inner rule which must be always kept, and the outer rule, which helped foster the inner rule, but ultimately falls away. The advice about cats (and cows) is part of the outer rule!
I have Fluffy. Who proudly brought me a garden pest, then caterwauled when I declined to write with it at my feet. No cows.