"... it is in solitude that the monk most completely comes to discover the true inner dimensions of his own being, at once "real" and "unreal". The conviction of ones' "self" as a static, absolute and invariable reality undergoes a profound transformation and dissolves in the burning light of an altogether new and unsuspected awareness. In this awareness we see that our "reality" is not a firmly established ego-self already attained that merely has to be perfected, but rather that we are a "nothing", a "possibility" in which the gift of creative freedom can realize itself by its response to the free gift of love and grace. This response means accepting our loneliness and our "potentiality" as a gift and a commission, as a trust to be used - as a "talent," in the language of the parables. Our existence is then at once terrible and precious because radically it belongs not to us but to God. Yet it will not be fully "His" unless we freely make it "ours" and then offer it to Him in praise. This is what Christian tradition means by "obedience to the Word of God." The monk must learn this for himself."
Photograph by Thomas Merton
-Thomas Merton, "The Spiritual Father in the Desert Tradition", Merton and Hesychasm, p. 298