Monday, January 9, 2012
A Year With Thomas Merton - January 8
Solitude and Gentleness
It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them. It is pure affection, and filled with reverence for the solitude of others. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say. It is no longer a question of dishonoring them by accepting their fictions, believing in their image of themselves, which their weakness obliges them to compose, the wan work of communication. Yet there will, it is true, always remain a dialectic between the words of men and their being. This will tell something about them we would not have realized if the words had not been there.
Solitude is not merely a negative relationship. It is not merely the absence of people or of presence with people. True solitude is a participation in the solitariness of God--Who is in all things. Solitude is not a matter of being something more than other men, except by accident: for those who cannot be alone cannot find their true being and they are less than themselves. Solitude means withdrawal from an artificial and fictional level of being which mean, divided by original sin, have fabricated in order to keep peace with concupiscence and death. But by that very fact the solitary finds himself on the level of a more perfect spiritual society--the city of those who have become real enough to confess and glorify God (that is, life) in the teeth of death. Solitude and society are formed and perfect in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
January 12, 1950, II.398-99