The Question of Love – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – Learning to Love: The Journals of Thomas Merton 1966-1967 edited by Christine M. Bochen

by Mark Votava

51RW0XF4HTL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_1. Moments of great loneliness

“There are moments of great loneliness and lostness in this solitude, but often then come other deeper moments of hope and understanding, and I realize that these would not be possible, in their purity, their simple secret directions, anywhere but in solitude.  I hope to be worthy of them!”

2. Bear the anxiety of self-questioning

“Now I see more and more that there is only one realistic answer: Love.  I have got to dare to love, and to bear the anxiety of self-questioning that love arouses in me, until ‘perfect love casts out fear.’”

3. The question of love

“The question of love: I have to face the fact that I have simply sidestepped it.  Now it must be faced squarely.  I cannot live without giving love back to a world that has given me so much.  And of course it has to be the love of a man dedicated to God – and selfless, detached, free, completely open love.  And I have not attained to such a level, hence the risk.  But facing the risk…  I will learn.”

4. Do trust love

“A voice says in me – love: do trust love!  Do not fear it, do not avoid it, do not take mere half-measures with it, but love, believe in it…”

5. Inner silence

“My moments of inner silence are my main source of strength, light and love…”

6. Nakedness, absurdity

“…what I really need is the simple reality of my own solitary life in its nakedness, absurdity, or whatever you want to call it…”

7. What really is God’s will for me?

“Now everyone is beginning to see that seeking God’s will is a much more risky and unpredictable venture.  I know that there are certain defined limits for me, but within those limits almost anything can happen and can be ‘God’s will’ and a summons to obedience: and not in terms of simple, blind submission only…  And know well how easy it is to kid myself – so much so that I hardly like to think about it!  What really is God’s will for me?…”

8. The whole question of “hearing God”

“The whole question of ‘hearing God’ has become extremely ambiguous that the very way it is talked of makes some people incapable of ‘hearing’ anything…”

9. Comfortable and complacent lives

“…people are ‘nice’ as long as they are not disturbed in their comfortable and complacent lives.  They cannot see the price of their ‘responsibility.’  And I am part of it and I don’t know what to do about it…”

10. The present is umlimited

“But in solitude when accurate limitations are seen and accepted, they then vanish, and a new dimension opens up.  The present is in fact, in itself, unlimited.  The only way to grasp it in its unlimitedness is to remove the limitations we place on it by future expectations and hopes and plans, or surmises, or regrets about the past, or attempts to explain something we have experienced… in order to be able to continue living with it.  Live with it?  To live with something past is to put a limitation on the present.  And yet the past does enter into the present: as the limitation against which we must assert our liability…”

Which quote do you like the best?

Here are some other posts I have done on Thomas Merton and his writings.