Nothing Counts Except Love – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

by Mark Votava


download (13)1. Nothing counts except love

“One thing has suddenly hit me – that nothing counts except love and that a solitude that is not simply the wide-openness of love and freedom is nothing. Love and solitude are the one ground of true maturity and freedom. Solitude that is just solitude and nothing else (i.e. excludes everything else but solitude) is worthless. True solitude embraces everything, for it is the fullness of love that rejects nothing and no one, is open to All in All.” April 14, 1966 Learning to Love

2. The resurrection is secret

“No one saw the Resurrection. Everyone saw the Crucifixion. Everyone does see the crucifixion. The cross is everywhere. But the resurrection is secret. The saints, who have understood it, in all its reality, cannot explain. The crucifixion can be explained to everybody.” December 14, 1940 Run to the Mountain

3. Practice contemplation simply in order to follow Christ

“My intention is, in fact, simply to ‘die’ to the past somehow. To take my fiftieth birthday as a turning point, and to live more abandoned to God’s will, less concerned with projects and initiatives… More detached from work and events, more solitary. To be one of those who entirely practice contemplation simply in order to follow Christ. And who am I anyway?” January 25, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

51491Th7C7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. Entangled in our own mind

“What is important is not liberation from the body but liberation from the mind. We are not entangled in our own body but entangled in our own mind.” November 3, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

5. A day of grace

“This was a day of grace.” May 5, 1947 Entering the Silence

6. I am only another member of the human race

“Thank God! Thank God! I am only another member of the human race, like all the rest of them. I have the immense joy of being a man! As if the sorrows of our condition could really matter, once we begin to realize who and what we are – as if we could ever begin to realize it on earth.” March 19, 1958 A Search for Solitude

7. I must stop complaining

“I must stop complaining. Until I do, I won’t see all I need to see, but only what I have to see, under some compulsion or another.” August 9, 1962 Turning Toward the World

8. Effort, deepening, change and transformation

“There is a need of effort, deepening, change and transformation.” May 30, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

9. More visibly human51yldrcNI8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“Christianity should make us ‘more visibly human’ – passionately concerned with all the good, that is, that wants to grow in the world and that cannot grow without our concern.” August 26, 1960

10. We must expect to be making mistakes almost all the time

“It is not complicated to lead the spiritual life. But it is difficult. We are blind, and subject to a thousand illusions. We must expect to be making mistakes almost all the time. We must be content to fail repeatedly and to begin again…” October 7, 1949 Entering the Silence

Has your spirituality made you more visibly human?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist