Give Up All Things – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals
by Mark Votava
1. Liberate myself from the common delusions
“The best thing I can give to others is to liberate myself from the common delusions and be, for myself and for them, free. Then grace can work in and through me for everyone.” January 29, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain
2. Give up all things
“I desire beyond everything that I may be really poor, give up all things, sell all I have and give to the poor and follow Christ…” November 4, 1941 Run to the Mountain
3. An unusual and eccentric pattern
“One thing that disturbs me unreasonably is that my life has what might appear to be an unusual and eccentric pattern…” June 27, 1949 Entering the Silence
4. We hide from ourselves
“It is that our indebtedness to God is so immense that no effort we make to acquit ourselves of it can be anything but foolish. And it is this indebtedness that shocked me. It is infinite. It is this we do not want to see. It is this, also, that we hide from ourselves by our very piety. For our worship is often a way of deluding ourselves that we are paying our debts.” February 9, 1959 A Search for Solitude
5. Plenty of solitude
“And there is no question, once again, that I am only fully ‘normal’ and human when I have plenty of solitude. Not that I ‘think’ but that I ‘live’ according to a different and more real tempo, live with the tempo of the sun and of the day, in harmony with what is around me. It would be infidelity to deny or evade the obvious truth that such a life is fully and completely right, and I cannot doubt it is the life I was meant for. Most of my troubles have come from tendencies to half believe those who may doubt it…” September 22, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life
6. Incapable of “hearing” anything
“The whole question of ‘hearing God’ has become extremely ambiguous. So ambiguous that the very way it is talked of makes some people incapable of ‘hearing’ anything. Their defense reflex is basically healthy and perhaps more radically religious in some cases than the ‘faith’ of those who ‘hear.’” November 11, 1966 Learning to Love
7. So few who are able to stand on their own feet
“This is a very significant observation. It ought to be obvious, but it is not, because there are so few Christians who are really able to stand on their own feet, and not propped up by reactionaries of the right on one side or those of the left on the other… But who is there who can stand in the middle and go his own way as a Christian? Probably there are some, but not as many as claim to be.” November 20 1962 Turning Toward the World
Have you given up all things?
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