Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - June 1

The Work of the Cell

Coming home—through Shakertown, Harrodsburg, Perryville, and Lebanon. Beautiful June countryside—deep grass and hay, flowering weeds, tall cumulus clouds, corn a foot high and beautifully green tobacco struggling to begin. The old road between Perryville and Lebanon—winding between small farms and old barns, with wooded knobs nearby—is one I like.

The great joy of the solitary life is not found simply in quiet, in the beauty and peace of nature, song of birds, etc., nor in the peace of one’s own heart, but in the awakening and attuning of the heart to the voice of God—to the inexplicable, quite definite inner certitude of one’s call to obey Him, to hear Him, to worship Him here, now, today, in silence and alone, and that this is the whole reason for one’s existence, this makes one’s existence fruitful and gives fruitfulness to all one’s other good acts, and is the ransom and purification of one’s heart, which has been dead in sin.

It is not simply a question of “existing” alone, but of doing, with joy and understanding, “the work of the cell,” which is done in silence and not according to one’s own choice or the pressure of necessity, but in obedience to God. But the Voice of God is not “heard” at every moment, and part of the “work of the cell” is attention so that one may not miss any sound of that Voice. When we see how little we listen, and how stubborn and gross our hearts are, we realize how important the work is and how badly prepared we are to do it.

June 6 and 8, 1965, V.253-54

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