How Little We Listen – 13 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – A Vow of Conversation: Journals 1964-1965 edited by Naomi Burton Stone

by Mark Votava

5176F5RY9ML._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_1. Solitude puts you with your back to the wall

“Solitude puts you with your back to the wall, or your face to it, and this is good…”

2. There is a will and intention of God bearing upon me

“One thing is clear, that there is a will and intention of God bearing upon me, and I must let it bear fully on me, so that I may be free…”

3. Solitude is not something to play with

“Solitude is not something to play with from time to time…”

4. Through darkness and crisis

“I dare to hope for change, not only quantitative but qualitative too; such change must come through darkness and crisis, not joyous and painless adventure…”

5. Poured out as a liberation

“I see more and more that now I must desire nothing else than to be ‘poured out as a liberation’ to give and surrender my being without concern…”

6. Solitude can wreck you

“I see more and more that solitude is not something to play with.  It is deadly serious, and much as I have wanted it, I have not been serious enough about it.  It is not enough just to ‘like solitude’ or love it even.  Even if you like it, solitude can wreck you, I believe, if you desire it only for your own sake.”

7. There is great beauty and peace in the life of silence

“…there is great beauty and peace in the life of silence and emptiness.  But to merely fool around with it brings awful desolation.  When one is trifling, even the beauty of the life suddenly becomes implacable.  Solitude is a stern mother who brooks no nonsense.  And the question arises – am I so full of nonsense that she will cast me out?”

8. In the poor, the defenseless

“Christ continues to suffer his passion in the poor, the defenseless…  Those who love power are destroyed together with what they love…”

9. Listening and obedience

“This listening and this obedience make one’s existence fruitful and give fruitfulness to all one’s others acts…”

10. How little we listen

“When we understand how little we listen… we realize how important this inner work is.  And we see how badly prepared we are to do it.”

11. For “being” anything is a distraction

“’Solitude’ becomes for me less and less of a specialty, more and more just life itself.  I do not seek to ‘be a solitary’ or anything else, for ‘being’ anything is a distraction.  It is enough to ‘be’ in an ordinary human mode with one’s hunger and sleep, one’s cold and warmth, rising and going to bed, putting on blankets and taking them off…”  

12. Contemplative intuition

“A contemplative intuition, yet this is perfectly ordinary, everyday seeing – what everybody ought to see all the time…”

13. Whole days without speaking

“It is good to go at least for whole days without speaking…”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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