True hope dwells on the possible, even when life seems to be a plot written by someone who wants to see how much adversity we can overcome. True hope responds to the real world, to real life; it is an active effort.
I live in the woods out of necessity. I get out of bed in the middle of the night because it is imperative that I hear the silence of the night, aloud, and with my face on the floor, say psalms, alone, in the silence of the night... The silence of the forest is my bride and the sweet dark warmth of the whole world is my love and out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in the silence...
~ from DANCING IN THE WATER OF LIFE by Thomas Merton, thanks to Gary O’Guinn
Vocation to Solitude — 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... to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into the bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn the very substance of life into a living and vigilant silence.
There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom . . . There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a foundation of action and joy. It rises up in gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.
~ from HAGIA SOPHIA by Thomas Merton, thanks to Br. Columba
The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own fake self and enter by Love into union with the Life who dwells and sings with the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls.
Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into a prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all.
~ from THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE by Thomas Merton, thanks to Gary O’Guinn
Prayer and meditation have an important part to play in opening up new ways and new horizons. If your prayer is the expression of a deep and grace-inspired desire for newness of life—and not the mere blind attachment to what has always been familiar and "safe"—God will act in us and to prepare what we cannot yet imagine or understand. In this way our prayer and faith today will be oriented toward the future which we ourselves may never see fully realized on earth.
from CONTEMPLATION IN A WORLD OF ACTION by Thomas Merton
To do work carefully and well, with love and respect for the nature of my task and with due attention to its purpose, is to unite myself with God's will in my work. I become an instrument for God to work through me.
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