Accept What Vulnerability I Have – 9 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

by Mark Votava

Learning-to-Love1. Real seriousness about meditative discipline

“I see the importance of real seriousness about meditative discipline – not just quiet and privacy (which I don’t always have anyway), and deepening. Have really reached the point in my life where one thing only is important: call it ‘liberation’ or whatever you like…” June 7, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

2. Fully and eternally alive

“This is our contemplation: the realization and ‘experience’ of the lifegiving Spirit in Whom the Father is present to us through the Son, our way, truth, and life. The realization that we are on our way, that because we are on our way we are in that Truth which is the end and by which we are already fully and eternally alive. Contemplation is the loving sense of this life and this presence and this eternity.” December 22, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

3. Grounded in solitude

“I am just beginning to really get grounded in solitude.” March 23, 1966 Learning to Love

4. Presentation of alternatives and deeper views

“There are times when it seems that fidelity to God is not compatible with mere obedience to an external norm, where fidelity to God requires something else: certainly not revolt or disobedience, but a presentation of alternatives and deeper views.” January 17 1963 Turning Toward the World

download (13)5. Allowed myself to be enslaved

“…by seeking happiness I have allowed myself to be enslaved…” June 1, 1959 A Search for Solitude

6. We have to very careful

“We have to be very careful about asking God questions and then answering them ourselves and saying: ‘God answered.’” November 4, 1941 Run to the Mountain

7. Discovering Christ in new and unexpected places

“…the contemplative life – is a continual discovery of Christ in new and unexpected places…” March 3, 1950 Entering the Silence

8. Give all we have to the poor

“If we renounce our wills (deny ourselves) and desire nothing but to do God’s will (take up our crosses), we will love our neighbors as God loves us… We will give all we have to the poor,… renounce all care what we will eat, where we will sleep, how we will be clothed., but feed, shelter and clothe others… We will be pure in heart and merciful, and there will be no pride or selfishness left n us. And when this is done truly, in true charity, we ourselves will disappear in our good actions, and no one will see us, or praise us, because they see only God’s love in us… Naturally, if we do something so that we are praised, and not God, for it, the action has that much of imperfection, and we will lament and sorrow it was not perfect!” September 30, 1941 Run to the Mountain

9. Accept what vulnerability I have

“Yet I think I can dare to accept what vulnerability I have (largely my own fault perhaps) as that of an exile, an alien, and feel it also as that which is normal for all the poor. Should it not be normal for me? Then why do I resent it? Because that is part of the wound!” January 6, 1963 Dancing in the Water of Life

Do you have real seriousness around a meditative discipline in life?

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