Thomas Merton

At the center of our being

At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak God's name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely ... I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.
~ from CONJECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER by Thomas Merton

What can the wind say

No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees...or the silence and peace that is "heard" when the rain wanders freely among the hills and forests. But what can the wind say where there is no hearer?
~Thomas Merton in THOUGHTS ON SOLITUDE

To breathe nothing but silence

To deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labor and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence.
~ from THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE by Thomas Merton

I do not see the road ahead of me

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end...
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you...
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
~ Thomas Merton

A spiritual vitality that lifts it above itself

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. The mind that responds to the intellectual and spiritual values that lie hidden in a poem, a painting, or a piece of music, discovers a spiritual vitality that lifts it above itself, takes it out of itself, and makes it present to itself on a level of being that it did not know it could ever achieve.

~ Thomas Merton in A THOMAS MERTON READER ed. by Thomas P. McDonnell

The function of fatih

The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the unknown and the known together in a living whole, in which we are more and more able to transcend the limitations of our external self.

~ from NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION by Thomas Merton

Silence has many dimensions

Silence has many dimensions. It can be a regression and an escape, a loss of self, or it can be presence, awareness, unification, self-discovery. Negative silence blurs and confuses our identity, and we lapse into daydreams or diffuse anxieties. Positive silence pulls us together and makes us realize who we are, who we might be, and the distance between the two. Hence, positive silence implies a choice, and what Paul Tillich called the "courage to be."

~ from LOVE AND LIVING by Thomas Merton

What can we gain by sailing to the moon

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.

~ Thomas Merton

Every moment of existence is a grace

Every breath we draw is a gift of God's love; every moment of existence is a grace.

~ Thomas Merton, from THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE

Our nothingness and helplessness

Our meditation should begin with the realization of our NOTHINGNESS AND HELPLESSNESS in the presence of God... "Finding our heart" and recovering this awareness of our inmost identity implies the recognition that our external, everyday self is to a great extent a mask and a fabrication. It is not our true self. And, indeed, our true self is not easy to find. IT IS HIDDEN IN OBSCURITY AND "NOTHINGNESS" at the center where we are in direct dependence on God.

~ from CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER by Thomas Merton
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