Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Journals

All Of Us Are Wrong – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s writings – Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton 1960-1963

download (13)1. Life is our destiny

“Life is our destiny whether we want it or not… Man is not, and cannot be, a mere ephemeral thing. But if he wills to be evanescent, to remain in what is not, he is a living contradiction.”

2. All of us are wrong in one way or another

“And doubtless the truth is that all of us are wrong in one way or another. And the ways in which we are ‘right’ are so illusory as to be non-existent…”

3. Do I want to act?

“Do I want to act? I am afraid I am only too glad to let myself be ‘held’ in a position where I am unable to move, and only complain weakly to conceal from myself the fact that I enjoy this inertia. If this is true, how can I claim to have any honesty left, or any honor?”

4. Slowly strangled

“We are being slowly strangled by our own economic system…”

5. Intensifying our despair

“What is worse in the world is the apathy, the helplessness, the despair of men, especially of the intellectuals. Others continue to fill the air with the noise of deceptive hopes – thus intensifying our despair.”

6. An escapist, a snob, a narcissist

“I have a natural tendency to become an escapist, a snob, a narcissist…”

7. A perfect spiritual humility and a total openness

“True Buddhism as I understand it is a perfect spiritual humility and a total openness…”

8. Stand on your own feet

“This is a very significant observation. It ought to be obvious, but 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.”

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!”

10. Slowly coming to a point of maturation

“I am perhaps at a turning point in my spiritual life: perhaps slowly coming to a point of maturation and the resolution of doubts – and the forgetting of fears…”

Do you believe that you are probably wrong about everything?

Purchase Turning Toward the World: The Journals of Thomas Merton 1960-1963

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

The Last Refuge of Humility – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

download (13)1. This “safety” appears to be freedom

“One of the great temptations of an over institutionalized religion is precisely this: to keep man under the constraints of his own and his society’s past so that this ‘safety’ appears to be freedom. He is free to return to the familiar constraint, but this interferes with his freedom to respond to the gift of grace in Christ…” January 6, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

2. As if pretense were easy in solitude

“Who ever said that the solitary life is one of pretense and deception? As if pretense were easy in solitude!!! It is easy in the community, for one can have the support of a common illusion or a common agreement in forms that take the place of truth. One can pretend in the solitude of an afternoon walk, but the night destroys all pretenses, one is reduced to nothing, and compelled to begin laboriously the long return to truth.” December 5, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

3. Abandon one’s attachment to a particular ego

“…the idea of solitude as part of the clarification which includes living for others: dissolution of the self in ‘belonging to everyone’ and regarding everyone’s suffering as one’s own. This is really incomprehensible unless one shares something of the deep existential Buddhist concept of suffering as bound up with the arbitrary formation of an illusory-ego self. To be ‘homeless’ is to abandon one’s attachment to a particular ego – and yet to care for one’s own life (in the highest sense) in the service of others. A deep and beautiful idea.” June 29, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

4. Try not to be anyone outwardly51yldrcNI8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“What matters is to love, to be in one place in silence, if necessary in suffering,… and not try to be anybody outwardly…” January 29, 1966 Learning to Love

5. The purest kind of activity

“Love is the purest kind of activity we know…” October 3, 1941 Run to the Mountain

6. No use in a reforming frenzy

“There is no use in a reforming frenzy!…” November 30, 1962 Turning Toward the World

7. The last refuge

“’Humility’ as the last refuge in which the self becomes impregnable! This is what we are looking for.” January 22, 1963 Turning Toward the World

8. Jesus lived in poverty and hardship

“…the life of a Christian has meaning and value only to the extent that it conforms to the life of Jesus. But Jesus lived in poverty and hardship…” February 13, 1949 Entering the Silence

Learning-to-Love9. The act by which we give ourselves to God

“The act by which we give ourselves to God is by its nature creation…” May 28, 1957 A Search for Solitude

10. Love takes care of it all

“Love takes care of it all. Whose love? Must I prove that I love? No, I hope in God’s love, i.e. in the incomprehensible. And in that love live at peace with myself and others. Someone questions the peace and asks to examine it. That’s his problem, not mine. It is not examinable.” September 19, 1966 Learning to Love

Have you embraced the last refuge of humility 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

Living Together With Wisdom – 10 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

download (13)1. Blocks our growth and happiness

“But we substitute an artificial, mythological norm for our own inner truth, and when it blocks our growth and happiness, we look for mythological reasons. We diagnose in terms of myth, to justify the myth at our own expense… We depend on the myths we fabricate (with the help of others) and block our lives by resorting to them…” June 23, 1966 Learning to Love

2. Living together with wisdom

“But what more do I seek than this silence, this simplicity, this ‘living together with wisdom’? For me there is nothing else…” January 31, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

3. Power prevents renewal

“Power prevents renewal. Power prevents real change…” May 6 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

Learning-to-Love4. Act in all things out of genuine love

“The thing is to cling to God’s will and truth in their purity and try to be sincere and to act in all things out of genuine love, in so far as I can.” January 25, 1962 Turning Toward the World

5. We have to leave all

“We have to leave all and follow Christ…” November 24, 1941

6. See what happens

“Before one knows the meaning of what happens, we must be able to see what happens…” November 21, 1958 A Search for Solitude

7. What a mistake it is

“What a mistake it is to judge your community at all! It is the community God has chosen and planned for your sanctification… You must work to improve it… But if you fail, do not despair and think everything is wasted. Does God’s glory depend on the success of your ideas? Does your sanctity consist in bringing everybody around to see things the way you see them?…” March 25, 1948 Entering the Silence

8. To live in poverty

“It is no use waiting now. I desire very much to begin to live in poverty, more than anything on earth. And this is a chance, and I pray that I may take it, and not lose it, and begin now to really follow Christ… And this in great earnestness and love and devotion, not for the peace and relief it must give anybody, at first, to follow the Gospel literally and without any further sophistry…” November 4, 1941 Run to the mountain

9. Need discipline51KguyFvx7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

“Need discipline, and need to get my solitary life more organized. I can see this is the big battle – to stay centered on something and not float out into space. The need for seriousness. Yet it is serious, and constantly so…” November 30 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

10. Does love have to make perfect sense?

“Love is a key to a hidden answer in us… Does love too have to make perfect sense?…” June 21, 1966 Learning to Love

Do you need more discipline in everyday 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

The Wilderness of Compassion – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

Learning-to-Love1. The symptoms of both life and death

“If the dying man should attend consciously to the symptoms of death in himself, the living man should attend to the symptoms both of life and death in himself…” September 16, 1968 The Oher Side of the Mountain

2. The total loneliness of Christ

“The total loneliness of Christ. I don’t claim that my loneliness is His. Still less that I understand anything about His…” June 21, 1966 Learning to Love

3. With great love

“Enough about seasons, which mean more than I ever admitted before, to me, but I have followed them all my life with great love, and their rhythm should be the basis of all decent cultures…” October 7, 1941 Run to the Mountain

4. My greatest failures

“But I must be careful to distinguish where I am ‘not poor.’ My greatest failures are perhaps in poverty.” September 6, 1962 Turning Toward the World

5. A man I never even heard of

“In any case every day is the same for me because I have become very different from what I used to be. The man who began this journal is dead, just as the man who finished The Seven Story Mountain when this journal began was also dead, and what is more the man who was the central figure in The Seven Story Mountain was dead over and over. And now that all these men are dead, it is sufficient for me to say on paper and I think I will have ended up by forgetting them… Consequently, The Seven Story Mountain is the work of a man I never even heard of…” June 13, 1951 Entering the Silence

6. No greater pain

“At times I feel fear that all the life is going to be inexorably squeezed out of me by this pious system… I am really beginning to understand the psalms, about the temptation to despair that beset the poor and the oppressed. To see what is evidently wrong or less good, triumph without difficulty while ideals of truth are crushed. There is no greater pain…” December 5, 1959 A Search for Solitude

download (13)7. Greed for money and power

“The great sin, the source of all other sins, is idolatry. And never has it been greater, more prevalent than now. It is almost completely unrecognized – precisely because it is so overwhelmingly total. It takes in everything. There is nothing else left. Fetishism of power, machines, possessions, medicine, sports, clothes, etc. all kept going by greed for money and power: the bomb is only one accidental aspect of the cult. Indeed, the bomb is not the worst. We should be thankful for it as a sign, a revelation of what all the rest of our civilization points to: the self-immolation of man to his greed and his own despair…” April 17, 1965 Dancing in the Water of Life

8. The wilderness of compassion

“What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish like the lily. It shall become a pool, it shall bud forth and blossom and rejoice with joy. It is the desert of compassion that the thirsty land turns into springs of water, that the poor possess all things…” November 19, 951 Entering the Silence

Have you entered into the wilderness of compassion?

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

Give Up All Things – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

51SwzeYappL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_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

51KguyFvx7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)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

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

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?

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

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

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

I Do Not Know the Meaning of Love – 8 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

51SwzeYappL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_1. God in us

“Above all, importance of knowing and following the voice of one’s own heart, one’s own secret: God in us.” October 31, 1966 Learning to Love

2. A totalitarian society

“…this is a totalitarian society in which freedom is pure illusion.” May 28, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

3. I want to give God everything

“’I want to give God everything.’ Until now I really have not, I think. Or perhaps in a way I have tried to. Certainly not too hard!” October 31, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

download (13)4. If we try hard enough

“In society, in the middle of other people, one can always imagine he will break through into other liberties and other frames of reference. Other worlds. But today everyone realizes that this is illusory to a great extent. The solitude of the other is like my own: there is no real way of deciphering it. Except to get down to the same radical desert perspective: what are our possibilities here and now, what do they mean, where do they lead? Nowhere except into another small, slight pattern of other very limited possibilities. But we have trained ourselves to think that we live at every moment amid unlimited hopes. There is nothing we cannot have if we try hard enough, or look in the right place for it.” June 18, 1966 Learning to Love

5. Apparent conflict with certain standards

“There must be no doubt, no compromise in my efforts to avoid falsifying this work of truth by considering too much what others approve of and regard as ‘holy.’ In a word, it may happen (or it may not) that what God demands of me may make me look less perfect to others, and that it may rob me of their support, their affection, their respect. To become a saint therefore may mean the anguish of looking like and in a real sense ‘being’ a sinner, an outcast. It may mean apparent conflict with certain standards which may be wrongly understood by me or by others or by all of us.” January 25, 1962 Turning Toward the World

6. I do not know the meaning of love

“Love is the only answer… What does love mean today? What is its place in the enormous dimensions of the modern world? We have to love in a new way and with a new attitude and I suppose perhaps the first thing to do is to admit I do not know the meaning of love in any context – ancient or new.” December 27, 1957 A Search for Solitude

7. Christ suffers most

“…the saints will come from the poorest of the laity, from the depths of the slums, from the concentration camps and the prisons, from the places where people are starving, bombed, machinegunned and beaten to death. Because in all these places Christ suffers most.” May 26, 1940 Run to the Mountain

8. When I am with people I am lonely

“…it is when I am with people that I am lonely and when I am alone I am no longer lonely…” June 27, 1949 Entering the Silence

Do you get lonely around people?

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

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


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

Immense Dissatisfaction – 7 quotes from Thomas Merton’s Journals

download (13)1. Common illusion and criticism of it

“The contemplative life must provide an area, a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices – beyond routine choice – becomes manifest. It should create a new experience of time,… not a blank to be filled or an untouched space to be conquered and violated, but a space which can enjoy its own potentials and hopes – and its own presence to itself. One’s own time. But not dominated by one’s own ego and its demands. Hence open to others – compassionate time, rooted in the sense of common illusion and in criticism of it.” November 7, 1968 The Other Side of the Mountain

2. The thought of death

“How often in the last years I have thought of death. It has been present to me and I have ‘understood’ it, and known that I must die. Yet last night, only for a moment, in passing, and so to speak without grimness or drama, I momentarily experienced the fact that I, this self, will simply not exist. A flash of the ‘not-thereness’ of being dead. Without fear or grief, without anything. Just not there. And this I suppose is one of the first tastes of the fruits of solitude… And of course the other thing is that this ‘I’ is not ‘I,’ and I am not this body, this ‘self,’ and I am not just my individual nature. But yet I might as well be, so firmly am I rooted in it and identify with it – with this which will cease utterly to exist, in its natural individuality.” December 4, 1964 Dancing in the Water of Life

3. To keep everybody loyally and happily consuming51KguyFvx7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)

“More than half the population of the U.S. is watching TV every evening. Sets in 90% of households. Average viewing: 6 hours a day. Policy of TV industry – standardization – give what offends no one of the accepted groups – business, military. Aim – to keep everybody loyally and happily consuming. ‘Consumership’ and the techniques of manipulating people and order them [to] consume as much as possible… The ‘American way of life’ is the American religion. ‘Religion is America’s most powerful weapon’ (vicious circle).” October 22, 1962 Turning Toward the World

4. I want my solitude to be authentic

“I know I do prefer solitude, and I want my solitude to be authentic…” May 8, 1967 Learning to Love

5. Immense dissatisfaction51RW0XF4HTL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

“There grows in me am immense dissatisfaction with all that is merely passively accepted as truth, without struggle and without examination. Faith surely, is not passive, and not an evasion…” April 20, 1958 A Search for Solitude

6. One of the functions of the contemplative life

“Perhaps one of the functions of a contemplative life is to help other people, by word or merely by example, to become aware of how much they are capable of loving God…” January 12, 1949 Entering the Silence

7. Nakedness, absurdity51yldrcNI8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

“In a word, what I really need is the simple reality of my own solitary life in its nakedness, absurdity, or whatever you want to call it (I must be careful of imposing arbitrary words on it).” July 10, 1966 Learning to Love

Do you desire an authentic solitude 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