Monday, August 13, 2007

solitude & emptiness

From moment to moment I remember with astonishment
that I am at the same time empty and full, and satisfied
(because I am empty, I lack nothing. The Lord rules me).
New Seeds of Contemplations, pp. 16-18 excerpted

In Merton’s essay, “Notes for a Philosophy of Solitude”, he repeatedly uses the word, “emptiness” when describing solitude:

“… one who is called to solitude is … called to emptiness. “ (Disputed Questions, p. 188)

“The emptiness of the true solitary is marked … by a great simplicity. This simplicity can be deceptive, because it may be hidden under a surface of apparent complexity, but it is there nevertheless, behind the outer contradictions of the man’s life. It manifests itself in a kind of candor though he may be very reticent … the man tends to live without images, without too much conceptual thought. When you get to know him well – which is sometimes possible – you may find in him not so much a man who seeks solitude as one who has already found it, or been found by it. His problem then is not to find what he already has, but to discover what to do about it.” (p. 189)

“[the solitary’s] function in the Church – a social function and a spiritual one – is to remain in the “cell” of his aloneness, whether it be a real cell in the desert, of simply the spiritual cell of his own incomprehensible emptiness: and, as the desert fathers used to say, his “cell will teach him all things.” (p. 181)

“… the solitary … lives in a world of emptiness, humility, and purity beyond the reach of slogans and beyond the gravitational pull of diversions that alienate him from God and from himself.” (p. 184)

“… he who is called to solitude is called to walk across the air of the abyss without danger, because, after all, the abyss is only himself. He should not be forced to feel guilty about it, for in this solitude and emptiness of his heart there is another, more inexplicable solitude. Man’s loneliness is, in fact, the loneliness of God.” (p. 190)

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