Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A Year With Thomas Merton - March 18
The World Is Our Mother
I have come to the monastery to find my place in the world, and if I fail to find this place, I will be wasting my time in the monastery.
It would be a grave sin for me to be on my knees in this monastery, flagellated, penanced, though not now as thin as I ought to be, and spend my time cursing the world without distinguishing what is good in it from what is bad.
Wars are evil, but the people involved in them are good, and I can do nothing whatever for my own salvation or for the glory of God if I merely withdraw from the mess people are in and make an exhibition of myself and write a big book saying, "Look! I'm different!" To do this is to die. Because any man who pretends to be either an angel or a statue must die the death.
Coming to the monastery has been, for me, exactly the right kind of withdrawal. It has given me perspective. It has taught me how to live. And now I owe everyone else in the world a share in that life. My first duty is to start, for the first time, to live as a member of the human race, which is no more (and no less) ridiculous than I am myself. And my first human act is the recognition of how much I owe everybody else. There is a world which Christ would not pray for. But the world was also made by God and is good, and unless that world is our mother, we cannot be saints, because we cannot be saints unless we are first of all human.
March 3, 1951, II.451