Friday, January 13, 2012

A Year With Thomas Merton - January 13

Unlearning All Tension in Solitude

There is one thing I must do here at my woodshed hermitage, St. Anne's (and may I one day live here and do it all day long), and that is to prepare for my death. But that means a preparation in gentleness. A gentleness, a silence, a humility that I have never had before--which seems impossible in the community, where even my compassion is tinged with force and strain.

But if I am called to solitude, it is, I think, to unlearn all tension, and get rid of the strain that has always falsified me in the presence of others and put harshness into the words of my mind. If I have needed solitude, it is because I have always so much needed the mercy of Christ and needed his humility and His charity. How can I give love unless I have much more than I have ever had?

Fine ideas in Max Picard's World of Silence. (A train whistle, like of the old time, sings in my present silence at St. Anne's where the watch without a crystal ticks on the little desk.)

Foolish to expect a man "to develop all the possibilities that are within him." "The possibilities that are not fully realized nourish the substance of silence. Silence is strengthened by them and gives of this additional strength to the other potentialities that are fully realized."

"There is room for contradictions within the substance of silence....A man who still has the substance of silence within him does not always need to be watching the movements of his inmost being."

January 14 and 28, 1953, III.28-29


  1. Psalm 19

    1The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

    2Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

    3There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

    4yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

    5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.


  2. I do wish my Russian friends would introduce themselves.