Moments of Great Loneliness – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

by Mark Votava

51yldrcNI8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. A preparation in gentleness

“There is one thing I must do here (and may I one day live here and do it all day long) and that is to prepare for my death. But that means a preparation in gentleness. A gentleness, a silence, a humility I have never had before…” January 14, 1953 A Search for Solitude

2. Not simply accepting an established routine

“It is clear that some kind of painful change needs to be made. A break through, a new start, and honest struggle. Above all a clear grasp of what I am trying to do. Not simply accepting an established routine and going along passively with it.” August 19, 1960 Turning Toward the World

3. Moments of great loneliness

“There are moments of great loneliness and lostness in this solitude, but often then come other deeper moments of hope and understanding, and I realize that these would not be possible, in their purity, their simple secret directions, anywhere but in solitude. I hope to be worthy of them!” February 17, 1966 Learning to Love

Learning-to-Love4. Only more love

“If I live for love, I will ask no reward, only more love…” April 3, 1942 Entering the Silence

5. True community

“How can the idea of ‘Church’ make any sense without this trust in man as capable of grace, capable of cooperation? Here’s the real beginning of the idea of community… True community: hope in man…” October 28, 1963 Dancing in the Water of Life

6. Strong social tradition

“The Pharisees had built up a strong social tradition saying it was ‘Divine’ and as a result, they not only refused to believe in Christ when He ignored that tradition, but definitely expected a Messiah who would come to fulfill all their expectations in a social sense: deliver them from their enemies, and make their nation prosperous and secure for ever.” October 18, 1941 Run to the Mountain

7. Love and humility

“No rules make a man perfect: only love and humility.” October 18, 1941 Run to the Mountain

8. Attached to appearances

“If you are attached to appearances, you cannot meditate.” November 7, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

9. How little we think of beauty

“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 as beautiful as it might be.” October 14, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

51CCO4H7KmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_10. The real limitations of one’s own existence

“The bitter and lucid joys of solitude. The real desert is this: to face the real limitations of one’s own existence and knowledge and not try to manipulate them or disguise them. Not to embellish them with possibilities. To simply set aside all possibilities other than those that are actually present and real, here and now. And then to choose or not, as one wishes, knowing that no choice is a solution to anything but merely a step further into a slightly changed context of other, very few, very limited, very meaningless concrete possibilities. To realize that one’s whole life, everybody’s life, is really like that. In a society the possibilities seem infinitely extended…” June 18, 1966 Learning to Love

Do you have moments of great loneliness in life?

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