Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"Solitude can wreck you, if you desire it only for your own sake"

--- Thomas Merton, entry for February 26, in A Vow of Conversation: Journals 1964-65, in Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, Lawrence S. Cunningham (ed.), Paulist Press: 1992, p. 193

In context:
    I see more and more that solitude is not something to play with. It is deadly serious, and much as I have wanted it, I have not been serious enough about it. It is not enough just to "like solitude" or love it even. Even if you like it, solitude can wreck you, I believe, if you desire it only for your own sake.
    So I go forward, and I don't believe I could ever go back (even interiorly I have reached a point of no return), but I go on in fear and trembling and often with a sense of lostness, trying to be careful what I do because I am beginning to see that every false step is paid for dearly.
   Hence, I fall back on prayer or try to. Yet no matter; there is great beauty and peace in the life of silence and emptiness. But to merely fool around with it brings awful desolation. When one is trifling, even the beauty of the life suddenly becomes implacable. Solitude is a stern mother who brooks no nonsense. And the question arises -- am I so full of nonsense that she will cast me out? I pray that she will not and I suppose that is going to take much prayer.