Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Year With Thomas Merton - October 5

Learning the Tempo of Solitude

I was finally right in the heart of Isaac of Stella--the translation of his "island loneliness" in the metaphysic of being and nothingness of the Sexagisma sermons (Sermon XIV). Hit very hard by a lot of ambiguities of expression, but an unquestionably deep and austere intuition, and very modern. But deeply mystical. Profound implications for my own prayer and solitude opened up. (Prayer of Christ on the Cross!)

I find more and more the power--the dangerous power--of solitude working on me. The easiness of wide error. The power of one's own inner ambivalence, the pull of inner contradiction. How little I know myself really. How weak and tepid I am. I need to work hard, and I don't know how--hence I work at the wrong things. I see that the first two months I got off to a nearly false start with too much excited reading of too many things, and my life has been grossly overstimulated for a solitary (in community, all right). Especially I worked too hard, too obsessively on the book, too frantic a pace for a solitary (again, in community solitude seems crowded and hopped up to me).

Everything has meaning, dire meanings, in solitude. And one can easily lose it all in following the habits one has brought out of common life (the daily round). One has to start over and receive (in meekness) a new awareness of work, time, prayer, oneself. A new tempo--it has to be in one's very system (and it is not in mine, I see).

And what I do not have I must pray for and wait for.

October 25 and 30, 1965, V.309-10

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