Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 11

What Do You Need?

What do I need? Hard question to answer.

I need something beyond my capacity to know. If I call it solitude, I mistake it. Silence, a primitive life.

What I need, as far as I can interpret the desire in my heart, is to make a journey to a primitive place, among primitive people, and there die. It is at the same time a going out and a “return.” A going somewhere where I have never been or thought of going—a going in which I am led by God, a journey in which I go out of everything I now have. And I feel that, unless I do this, my spiritual life is at an end. Unfortunately this obscure drive is not recognized by theologians and directors. Certainly it is “nature.” But is there no grace in it? I do not know. It is an anxious and imperious thing…call it “acting out.”

But—if you go to Mexico on the strength of that impulse, are you free? Are you not subordinating your spiritual freedom to blind irrationality? Maybe that is the trouble. (The book about the New Yorker—Thurber’s—oppresses me. Civilization oppresses me, or rather all that is new in it does. The most comforting thing in the book is the sketch on the cover, a boat in one of the Manhattan docks. The only good thing about New York is that you can sail from there to France.)

What do I need? If necessary I can get by with plenty of mornings like this. Seriously, I need silence, thought, solitude to enter into myself to see and touch reality, to live the contemplative life.

August 18, 1959, III.319

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