Monday, August 8, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - August 7

Letting Go of All Self-Images

Yesterday a good day of recollection in the woods. Read the part of Dostoevsky’s The Possessed about the mad Saint Symeon, and something clicked: a strange light on St. Bernard’s concept of fiducia—“trust”—and one he might perhaps have repudiated, but the root of my problem remains fear of my own solitude—imagined solitude—the fear of rejection, which I nevertheless anticipate—as if it mattered! I should be more bravely real—it is what I need, and one would be surprised at it in me. I think even that my vocation requires it.

Serious need to give the “folly” of God a predominant place in our very serious and insane world! It is perhaps the most valid reply, if not the only reply.

The answer of apparent wilderness is the providential and divine criticism that is demanded of us, and I have not been nearly as wild as I need to be: it is a reply also to the serious stupidity of our misguided “holiness” here.

I am really a monk when I can let go completely of “being a monk” (self-consciously), and I think I have let go of that long ago. Now I face the terror of being, by the same “letting go,” a Christian? And a writer and myself?

How crazy it is to be “yourself” by trying to live up to an image of yourself you have unconsciously created in the minds of others. Better to destroy the image if necessary. But even this is not serious, or to be taken seriously.

August 20, 1965, III.214

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