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

Giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek

The whole thing boils down to giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek. We don't have to rush after it. It was there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us. There is in all this a sense of the unfolding of mystery in time, a reverence for gradual growth.

~ Thomas Merton

You do not find it by travelling, but by standing still

Silence is fruitful only when it leads to interior peace and stillness.

Contemplation is a country whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.

You do not find it by travelling, but by standing still.

~ Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton

Our real journey

Our real journey in life is interior: a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.
~ Thomas Merton

Always be true to the deepest and purest aspirations of your soul

Always be true to the deepest and purest aspirations of your soul. Be true to your own deepest self, the real "you", the inner self that is one with God. You may not always be aware of this inmost self. But there are times when, obscurely, at least, you KNOW what is best in you, and you can tell what road God wants you to travel. It does not have to be anything spectacular or unusual. It may simply be what is right in front of you. But it must be a way that enables you to be true to yourself, quietly, peacefully, patiently.

~ Thomas Merton in a letter to Sr. Elizabeth Ann

As long as it talks, I am going to listen

What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, intelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.

~ Thomas Merton

The need is for a true silence which is alive and which carries a loving presence

There has to be enough communication so that silence can be a grace. That kind of silence demands a deeper love, and until that much love is developed, there is no point in pretending that the love is there when it isn't. The justification of silence in our life is that we love one another to be silent together ... In the depths of community life, we realize the grace of being silent together, but we don't arrive at this by excluding others or treating them as objects. It happens gradually as we learn to love ... The need is for a true silence which is alive and which carries a loving presence.

~ from THE SPRINGS OF CONTEMPLATION by Thomas Merton

Silence is the strength of our interior life

Silence is the strength of our interior life. If we fill our lives with silence, then we live in hope.

~ Thomas Merton with thanks to Susan Bower
No Man Is an Island
By Thomas Merton

Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life

Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware, that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that source.

~ from NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION by Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton
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