Thomas Merton

Without silence, God is not heard in our music

Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm.  If we strive to be happy by filling the silence of life with sound, productive by turning all life's leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth.  If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music.  If we have no rest, God does not bless our work.  If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.


At the center of our being is a point of nothingness

At the center of our being is a point of nothingness, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God. It is in everybody and if we could see it we would see those billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun.


Be still

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
To speak your Name.

~ by Thomas Merton
The Strange Islands: Poems
By Thomas Merton

My worship is 10,000 crickets in the deep wet hay of the field

Warm sun. My worship is a blue sky and 10,000 crickets in the deep wet hay of the field. My vow is the silence under their song. I admire the woodpecker and the dove in simple mathematics of flight. Together we study practical norms. The plowed and planted field is red as brick in the sun and says: "Now is my turn!" Several of us began to sing.

~ by Thomas Merton

Creation has been given to us as a clean window

Creation has been given to us as a clean window through which the light of God could shine into the human soul. Sun and moon, night and day, rain, sea, crops, the flowering tree: all these things are transparent.
~ by Thomas Merton in "Horizons" thanks to Nancy Conley

How I pray is breathe

What I wear is pants.
What I do is live.
How I pray is breathe...
Up here in the woods is seen the Word.
That is to say, the wind comes through
the trees and you breathe it.

~ from DAY OF A STRANGER by Thomas Merton
Day of a Stranger
By Thomas Merton

Your solitude will bear immense fruit

Your solitude will bear immense fruit in the souls of men and women you will never see on earth.

~ from THE SEVEN STORY MOUNTAIN by Thomas Merton
The Seven Storey Mountain
By Thomas Merton

Forests and fields all speak the same language

Forests and fields, sun and wind and sky, earth and water, all speak the same language: peace, solitude, silence.

~ Thomas Merton

No longer trusting entirely in language to contain reality

The solitary life, being silent, clears away the smoke-screen of words that we lay down between our mind and things... Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being, between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world of silence, words to not separate us from the world nor from others, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.
~ from THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE by Thomas Merton
Thoughts In Solitude
By Thomas Merton

No despair of ours can stain the joy of the cosmic dance which always there

The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there.

Even on the foggiest nights.

~ Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton
Syndicate content