[In the last analysis what I am looking for in solitude is not happiness or fulfillment but salvation. Not "my own salvation" but the salvation of everybody. Here is where the game gets serious. I have used the word revolt in connection with solitude. Revolt against what? Against a notion of salvation that is entirely legal and extrinsic and can be achieved no matter how false, no matter how shriveled and fruitless one's inner life really is. This is the worst ambiguity: the impression that one can be grossly unfaithful to life, to experience, to love, to other people, to one's own deepest self, and yet be "saved" by an act of stubborn conformity, by the will to be correct. In the end this seems to me to be fatally like the act by which one is lost: the determination to be "right" at all costs, by dint of hardening one's core around an arbitrary choice of a fixed position. To close in on one's central wrongness with the refusal to admit that it might be wrong. ..I am here [in solitude and in the hermitage] for one thing: to be open, to be not "closed in" on any one choice to the exclusion of all others: to be open to God's will and freedom to His love, which comes to save me from all in myself that resists Him and says no to Him. This I must do not to justify myself, not to be right, not to be good, but because the whole world of lost people needs this opening by which salvation can get into it through me.
Thomas Merton. Learning to Love. Christine M. Bochen, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997: 345.
The big reasons for solitude: the true perspectives- leaving the "world"-even the monastic world with its business, vanities, superficiality. More and more I see the necessity of leaving my own ridiculous "career" as a religious journalist. Stop writing for publication- except poems and creative meditations.
Solitude-witness to Christ-emptiness.
Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Lawrence S. Cunningham, editor. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996: 350.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This is another of the weekly quotes from the Merton Institute. I don't want to lose it so I am adding it to this site:
Monday, August 4, 2008
from Merton’s article, “The Spiritual Father in the Desert Tradition”, in the book, Merton & Hesychasm – the Prayer of the Heart.
"... 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 one’s “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. (p. 298)
The Rev. Munther Isaac lighting a candle next to an improvised crèche this month in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Credit... Samar Hazboun...