There has been a legal change of seasons, and the monastic fast has begun today. It is cool again, and the leaves of the sycamores are already beginning to turn yellow and brown. We brought down our mattresses and blankets from our dormitory cells and spread them out in the bright September sun. My mind is full of Saint Francis on Mount Alvernia.      
A moment ago, someone was playing the harmonium in the novitiate. Our psalms sound very wistful and strange on a harmonium: plaintive, sentimental and thin, as if they were rilled with an immense nostalgia for the heaven of the books of meditations. It reminded me of the night Father Alberic died, three years ago. I watched by the body in the middle of the night, and then went back to the dormitory and could not get to sleep, even when I stayed to catch up my two hours while the others went down to church for the Night Office. Finally they sang Matins and Lauds of the Dead, for Father Alberic, and I could hear the garbled music coming into the dormitory through the back of the organ pipes–that great, big, dusty closet full of muffled chords! The poignancy of that music was very affecting. It seemed to sum up all the sufferings of the long life that was now over. Poor little gray Father Alberic, writing the history of the Order on scraps of paper up in the infirmary! All the relief, all the mystery, all the unexpected joy of his meeting with God could be guessed at in those strange harmonies. And so, this morning, the sound of this harmonium in the novitiate (it has begun to play again) chimes in with the last days of a two weeks' battle, and I feel a wistful and chastened sobriety filling my heart, as if I were one of the eight human survivors of the deluge, watching the world come back to view from the summit of Mount Ararat!
In the tempest, I have discovered once again, but this time with a peculiarly piercing sharpness, that I cannot possess created things, 1 cannot touch them, I cannot get into them. They are not my end, I cannot find any rest in them. We who are supposed to be Christians know that well enough, abstractly. Or rather, we say we believe it. Actually we have to discover it over and over again. We have to experience this truth, with deeper and deeper intensity, as we go on in life. We renounce the pursuit of creatures as ends on certain sacramental occasions. And we return, bit by bit, to our familiarity with them, living as if we had in this world a lasting city. . . .But creatures remain untouchable, inviolable. If God wants you to suffer a little, He allows you to learn just how inviolable they are. As soon as you try to possess their goodness for its own sake, all that is sweet in them becomes bitter to you, all that is beautiful, ugly. Everything you love sickens you. And at the same time your need to love something, somebody, increases a hundred times over. And God, Who is the only one who can be loved for His own sake alone, remains invisible and unimaginable and untouchable, beyond everything else that exists.
You flowers and trees, you hills and streams, you fields, flocks and wild birds, you books, you poems, and you people, I am unutterably alone in the midst of you. The irrational hunger that sometimes gets into the depths of my will, tries to swing my deepest self away from God and direct it to your love. I try to touch you with the deep fire that is in the center of my heart, but I cannot touch you without defiling both you and myself, and I am abashed, solitary and helpless, surrounded by a beauty that can never belong to me.
But this sadness generates within me an unspeakable reverence for the holiness of created things, for they are pure and perfect and they belong to God and they are mirrors of His beauty. He is mirrored in all things like sunlight in clean water: but if I try to drink the light that is in the water I only shatter the reflection.
And so I live alone and chaste in the midst of the holy beauty of all created things, knowing that nothing I can see or hear or touch will ever belong to me, ashamed of my absurd need to give myself away to any one of them or to all of them. The silly, hopeless passion to give myself away to any beauty eats out my heart. It is an unworthy desire, but I cannot avoid it. It is in the hearts of us all, and we have to bear with it, suffer its demands with patience, until we die and go to heaven where all things will belong to us in their highest causes.