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  • RoMa Johnson

Hermitage Diary

Day 1 10/22/2020

In my journal I draw a picture (based on the memory of an iconic photograph) of Thomas Merton standing on the porch of his little white cottage at the liminal threshold between Gethsemani and Eden. I step out into the morning, follow the sound of the waterfall to the pond, then stand watching, watching for the Salmon of Wisdom to appear. I perambulate the garden, touching red berries on one slender branch, redder berries on another, while trees I cannot name dance and rustle their percussive leaves like a jazz drummer brushing his snare to sleep long after the club has closed. I step onto a hexagonal platform with a wrought iron frame, its purpose—flooring for some forgotten festival or nomad yurt—shrouded, its wooden boards calmly, brownly deliquescing into mulch. I stop and bend to stroke a sky blue mushroom emerging seductively, stickily, pushing the morning leaf cover aside (I haven’t forgotten those days.). Unnoticing, I walk through a spider web stretched across the path to my door. I admit that I noticed only when the imprisoned fly hung two inches from my face. As I pulled away one silk strand remained attached to me; the farther I moved, the longer the thread extended to maintain contact. In that moment I felt captured.

I’m in England now, whether virtually or real-ly I can no longer say: I travel here so often on the songlines of meditation and dream.

Moment by moment, though, as I re-acquaint myself with British plumbing and tea kettles and duvets and unfathomable window latches and massive electrical plugs the size of apples and the switches that make them work, and rows of muddy boots inside every doorway and the smell of the sea, however far away, inside every breeze, I come to earth here and take up my hermitage.

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