Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thomas Merton and Solitude

I've long been interested in the works of the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. I've read Thoughts in Solitude and have in my library but haven't read The Seven Storey Mountain and The Secular Journal of Thomas Merton. I hope to read them both soon. Now I'm reading The Value of Solitude, The Ethics and Spirituality of Aloneness in Autobiography by John D. Barbour, and he devotes a chapter to Thomas Merton. The above image is from this book. There are an amazing number of opinions on solitude held by as many people. Some crave it and some are repulsed by it calling it the utmost in selfishness. I fall into the first camp. How about you?


Katy Sharpe Sammons said...

As you well know, I cannot have enough solitude! I am learning to find a balance between how much is necessary for my sanity, and what constitutes self-indulgence. It is an ongoing struggle!

Sara said...

Thomas Merton's books are among my favorites also. I have not read these (except Seven Story Mountain), but I have and treasure two of his: No Man is an Island, and Contemplative Prayer. Seven Story Mountain was interesting to read but I found it hard to keep interested in places...not sure why. This was several years ago. Perhaps now I'd feel differently about it.

Solitude is something I need and thrive on. I know others who are just the opposite. It's an interesting phenomenon!

Fiordelisa said...

Wow. I love that quote. It defines some of my frustrations about blogging...that one only sort of connects with others. During my morning walk yesterday, I thought, "The crowd is always / has always been shallow. Just turn away." Then I run back to my blog friends and find such joy and inspiration there. Elizabeth Goudge (yes, I read a few of your posts) wrote somewhere about how Jesus was the only person able to keep the perfect balance between alone time and social time. It would be great to be more like Him in this way, as well as in others.
(I'm visiting by way of Come Away With Me.)

Fiordelisa said...

Here is the Elizabeth Goudge quote. It's from The Joy of the Snow.

"One earthly life may have been enough for Christ, so perfectly balanced was he, so entirely concentrated on the matter in hand, yet able to turn from one thing to another as though there were no difficult transitions between storm and calm, teaching and healing, praying and going to a party, suffering and dying, but all were the one smooth flow of the music of the will of God."

The part about "praying and going to a party" is, to me, finding the balance between solitude and friends.