The Revelation of Your True Face
The solitary life: now that I really confront it, it is awesome, wonderful, and I see that I have no strength of my own for it. Deep sense of my own poverty and, above all, awareness of the wrongs I have allowed in myself together with this good desire. This is all good. I am glad to be shocked by grace and to wake up in time to see the great seriousness of it. I have been merely playing at this, and the solitary life does not admit of mere play. Contrary to all that is said about it, I do not see how the really solitary life can tolerate illusion and self-deception. It seems to me that solitude rips off all the masks and all the disguises. It does not tolerate lies. Everything but straight and direct affirmation is marked and judged by the silence of the forest. “Let your speech be ‘Yea! Yea!’”
The need to pray—the need for solid theological food, for the Bible, for monastic tradition. Not experimentation or philosophical dilettantism. The need to be entirely defined by a relationship with and orientation to God my Father, i.e., a life of sonship in which all that distracts from this relationship is seen as fatuous and absurd. How real this is! A reality that I must constantly measure up to, it cannot be simply taken for granted. It cannot be lost in distraction. Distractedness here is fatal—it brings one inexorably to the abyss. But no concentration is required, only being present. And also working seriously at all that is to be done—the care of the garden of paradise! By reading, meditation, study, psalmody, manual work, including some fasting, etc. Above all the work of hope, not the stupid, relaxed self-pity of acedia—engendered by boredom and distractedness.
August 10, 1965, V.277-78