Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the mystery of one's inner life (solitude)

Photo by Thomas Merton
"One of the first essentials of the interior solitude of which I speak is that it is the actualization of a faith in which a man takes responsibility for his own inner life.  He faces its full mystery, in the presence of the invisible God.  And he takes upon himself the lonely, barely comprehensible, incommunicable task of working his way through the darkness of his own mystery until he discovers that his mystery and the mystery of God merge into one reality, which is the only reality.  That God lives in him and he in God -- not precisely in the way that words seem to suggest (for words have no power to comprehend the reality) but in a way that makes words, and even attempts to communicate, seem utterly illusory.

"The words of God, the words which unite in "One Body" the society of those who truly believe, have the power to signify the mystery of our loneliness and oneness in Christ, to point the way into its darkness.  They have the power also, to illuminate the darkness.  But they do so by losing the shape of words and becoming -- not thoughts, not things, but the unspeakable beating of a Heart within the heart of one's own life."

-- Thomas Merton, Notes for a Philosophy of Solitude, in the book Disputed Questions (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960) p. 180

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