Plenty of Solitude – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Dancing in the Water of Life: The Journals of Thomas Merton 1963-1965 edited by Robert E. Daggy  

by Mark Votava

51KguyFvx7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)1. The “accepted” and the status quo

“I so easily let myself be bogged down in the ‘accepted’ and the status quo – perhaps even in looking for futile reassurances from others, not explicit, but still gestures of acceptance…”

2. The love of wealth, and the image of power

“The country is corrupted by the love of wealth, and the image of power.  Men will do anything for this love, and nothing else matters.”

3. Plenty of solitude

“And there is no question, once again, that I am only fully ‘normal’ and human when I have plenty of solitude.  Not that I ‘think’ but that I ‘live’ according to a different and more real tempo, live with the tempo of the sun and of the day, in harmony with what is around me.  It would be infidelity to deny or evade the obvious truth that such a life is fully and completely right, and I cannot doubt it is the life I was meant for.  Most of my troubles have come from tendencies to half believe those who may doubt it.”

4. Attend carefully to everything

“In solitude… one must attend carefully to everything.  If you apply yourself carefully to what you do, great springs of strength and truth are released in you.  If you drift or go inattentively, automatic and obsessed, the strength is against you and becomes a storm of confusion, and dashes you to the rocks.  And when the power, the energy of truth is well released, then everything becomes good and makes sense, and there is no contrast to be made between solitude and community or anything else, because all is good…”

5. These days in solitude

“I have come to see that only these days in solitude are really full and ‘whole’ for me…”

6. Solitude is not death, it is life

“Solitude is not death, it is life.  It aims not at living death but at a certain fullness of life.  But a fullness that comes from honestly and authentically facing death and accepting it without care…  Not with any social justification: not with the reliance on an achievement which is approved or at least understood by others.  Unfortunately, even in solitude, though I try not to (and sometimes claim not to) I still depend too much, emotionally, on being accepted and approved.”

7. How we fear freedom

“How men fear freedom!  And how I have learned to fear it myself…”

8. A silence of printed words, or words possessed and accumulated

“But I know more and more, ‘in silence and hope shall my strength be’ if I can only develop a silence of printed words, or words possessed and accumulated (mere shit)…”

9. A pharisaical division between the sacred and secular

“Here I see my task is to get rid of the last vestiges of a pharisaical division between the sacred and secular…”

10. The beauty of earth

“How little we think of the beauty of the Divine Light – and how drab life is in consequence.  We do not let the beauty of earth remind us where we are to go.  As a consequence, not even the earth is beautiful to us, or beautiful as it might be.”

Which quotes do you like the most?

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