Thursday, August 2, 2007

solitude, rilke and merton

For some reason, I am having problems the last few days accessing this blog, and it is almost impossible for me to respond to comments. Hopefully this will all resolve itself in a few days. I appreciate all comments, and, as usual, I have something to say :-) ... I just can't do it right now.

Here is a Rilke quote on solitude from Letters to a Young Poet:

"Only one thing is necessary: solitude. To withdraw into oneself and not to meet anyone for hours - that is what we must arrive at. To be alone as a child is alone when grownups come and go."

And here is Merton echoing the same theme:

"I am not defending a phony "hermit-mystique,' but some of us have to be alone to be ourselves. Call it privacy if you like. But we have thinking to do and work to do which demands a certain silence and aloneness. We need time to do our job of meditation and creation." (Contemplation in a World of Actions, p. 218)


  1. By his own definition, I have probably had more solitude in my apartment than Merton ever had in his hermitage.

  2. I get hours every day. I work alone, and with my hands. I have learned with practice, that my work can be my meditation. Whether I am renovating a house or just changing a few windows. A little Gregorian Chant in the headphones helps too!


  3. I have periods of each day where I am alone, but I don't always call it "solitude". And there are times when I am working and with others, that I feel more solitary. Which leads me to believe that there is an element to "solitude" that goes deeper than just "being alone".

    I think that prayer (or intention, or awareness) has something to do with it.

    And being alone, physically, helps me to get in touch with the solitariness of my soul.

  4. Beth,
    A man (or woman)becomes a solitary the moment when, no matter what may be his external surroundings, he is suddenly aware of his own inalienable solitude and sees that he will never be anything but solitary.
    Thoughts In Solitude, page 77
    Just one of the many thoughts of Merton that I ponder and humbly try to practice.


From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.