Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - July 27

Facing Death
Does my solitude meet the standard set by my approaching death? No. I’m afraid it does not. That possibility which is most intimate, isolated, my own, cannot be shared or described. I cannot look forward to it as an experience I can analyze and share. It is not something to be understood and enjoyed. (To “understand” and “contemplate” it beforehand is a kind of imposture.) But the solitary life should partake of the seriousness and incommunicability of death. Or should it? It that too rigid and absolute an ideal? The two go together. Solitude is not death, it is life. It aims not at a living death but at a certain fullness of life. But a fullness that comes from honestly and authentically facing death and accepting it without care, i.e., with faith and trust in God. Not with any social justification: not with reliance on an achievement which is approved or at least understood by others. Unfortunately, even in solitude, though I try not to (and sometimes claim not to), I still depend too much, emotionally, on being accepted and approved.
The greatest “comfort” (and a legitimate one, not an invasion) is to be sought precisely in the Psalms, which face death as it is, under the eye of God, and teach us how we may face it. The Psalms bring us at the same time into contact, rather communion, with all those who have seen death and accepted it. Most of all the Lord Himself, who prayed from Psalm 21 on the Cross.
July 5, 1965, V.264-65

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