The Silence of the World – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – A Thomas Merton Reader edited by Thomas P. McDonnell

by Mark Votava

51chKV-u5CL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. To grasp the “unexpected”

“The wise man must make tremendous efforts to grasp ‘the unexpected’: that is to say he must keep himself alert, he must constantly ‘seek for himself,’ and he must not fear to strive for excellence that will make him an object of hatred and mistrust in the eyes of the conventional majority…”

2. The world is a sacred vessel

“The world is a sacred vessel which must not be tampered with or grabbed after.”

3. Waking from a dream of separateness

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers.  It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.  The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream.  Not that I question the reality of my vocation… but the conception of ‘separation from the world’… too easily presents itself as a complete illusion…”

4. Contemplation is a work of grace

“For contemplation is a work of grace.  The Truth to which it unites us is not an abstraction but Reality and Life itself.  The love by which it unites us to this Truth is a gift of God and can only be produced within us by the direct action of God.”

5. The good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.  For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.  Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them: for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love.”

6. Our real journey in life is interior

“Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.  Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action.”

7. The silence of the world

“Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else.  They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea.  They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness.  The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose.  The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength.  The silence of the sky remains when the plain has gone.  The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart.  It is the silence of the world that is real.  Our noise, our business, our purposes, and our fatuous statements about our purposes, or business, and our noise: these are the illusion.”

Which quote most resonates with you?

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