Having No Idea Where I am Going – 6 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Writings – Thomas Merton: An Invitation to the Contemplative Life edited by Wayne Simsic

by Mark Votava

21YJgT2f8BL._BO1,204,203,200_1. I may seem to be lost

“…I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

2. A refusal to take things in terms of gift

“But this basic sense of our own being can be blocked, maybe by a refusal to take things in terms of gift, or by our not wanting to have to say thanks to anybody.  Or maybe we want to have life on our own terms, as if it were not a gift but my due.  This attitude goes back to a legalism which is terrible, precisely because, instead of making it possible to accept life as a gift, welling up from within, I make it something that’s coming to me, something I’m owed.”

3. Sad is the case of the exterior self

“Sad is the case of the exterior self that imagines himself contemplative, and seeks to achieve contemplation as the fruit of planned effort and of spiritual ambition.  He will assume varied attitudes, meditate on the inner significance of his own postures, and try to fabricate for himself a contemplative identity: and all the while there is nobody there.  There is only an illusory, fictional ‘I’ which seeks itself, struggles to create itself out of nothing, maintained in being by its own compulsion and the prisoner of his private illusion.”

4. A dialogue of deep wills

“The ever-changing reality in the midst of which we live should awaken us to the possibility of an uninterrupted dialogue with God.  By this I do not mean continuous ‘talk,’… but a dialogue of love and of choice.  A dialogue of deep wills.”

5. Better just to smell a flower

“Better just to smell a flower in the garden or something like that than to have an unauthentic experience of a much higher value.  Better to honestly enjoy the sunshine or some light reading than to claim to be in contact with something that one is not in contact with at all.”

6. At every moment, and deep peace

“Contemplation is really simple openness to God at every moment, and deep peace…”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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