POETRY: Song—If You Seek. . ., by Thomas Merton

February 28, 2015

If you seek a heavenly light I, Solitude, am your professor! I go before you into emptiness, Raise strange suns for your new mornings, Opening the windows Of your innermost apartment. When I, loneliness, give my special signal Follow my silence, follow where I beckon! Fear not, little beast, little spirit (Thou word and animal) I, Solitude, am angel And have prayed in your name. Look at the empty, wealthy night The pilgrim moon! I am the appointed hour, The “now” that cuts Time like a blade. I am the unexpected flash Beyond “yes,” beyond “no,” The forerunner of the Word of God. Follow my ways and I will lead you To golden-haired suns, Logos and music, blameless joys, Innocent of questions And beyond [...]

SATURDAY READING: Rain And The Rhinoceros by Thomas Merton

July 12, 2014

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money.  By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market.  The time will come when they will sell you even your rain.  At the moment it is still free, and I am in it.  I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness. The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities.  It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound.  It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms.  And I [...]

PRAYER: Prayers Of GratitudeAnd Praise, by Edward Hays

May 26, 2014

Blessed Are You, Lord Our God, Who Gives To Us Nourishment In Times Of Silence And Solitude From uplifted hearts, hearts full of gratitude, may this prayer of thanksgiving rise to You, God of All Gifts and of Great Generosity. We are thankful for times of stillness which allow us to listen to that holy river of prayer flowing in the heart; for the presence of Your Holy Spirit within, the Spirit who prays [...]

POETRY: Poems From On The Blue Shore Of Silence, by Pablo Neruda

April 2, 2014

The Sea I need the sea because it teaches me. I don’t know if I learn music or awareness, if it’s a single wave or its vast existence, or only its harsh voice or its shining suggestion of fishes and ships. The fact is that until I fall asleep, in some magnetic way I move in the university of the waves. It’s not simply the shells crunched as if some shivering planet were giving signs of its gradual death; no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment, the stalactite from the sliver of salt, and the great god out of a spoonful. What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air ceaseless wind, water and sand. It seems a small thing for a young man, to have come here to live with his own fire; nevertheless, the pulse that rose [...]

SATURDAY READING: Seek Solitude by David Yount

March 22, 2014

From Spiritual Simplicity Make Peace With Yourself   Simple living is not trouble free.  Simplicity offers no permanent protection against adversity, but it will help you to deal with ill fortune more calmly and sensibly, while giving you the foresight to head off unnecessary setbacks.  By establishing reasonable expectations and responsible habits you will no longer be a ready candidate for victimization.  You will anticipate ups and downs, but you will not be down for long. The only sure things in life, we’re told, are death and taxes, but they are the things we worry least about.  Only about one American in four frets about dying, but two-thirds of us worry about ending our days in a nursing home because of physical frailty [...]

POETRY: Poems Of Eugenio Montale

March 21, 2014

Translated from the Italian by William Arrowsmith Solitude When I go away for a day or two the pigeons pecking at my windowsill stage a protest as their union contract requires. On my return an extra ration of crumbs restores order, which disappoints the blackbird shuttling back and froth between me and the venerable old man in the apartment opposite. My family is reduced to next to nothing. And some men have one or more wasted on them, alas! † We’re into group solitude now a new event in history, and obviously not the best according to some solitary Zebedee. But matters could be worse. Here on the table I have a collective individual, a marble or corals harder than flint. It seems to have a definite hammer-resistant form. And it [...]

SOLITUDE: Solitude And Community by Maurice Friedman

March 20, 2014

From A Heart of Wisdom If a person were in such a rapturous state as Saint Paul once entered, and he knew of a sick man who wanted a cup of soup, it would be far better to withdraw from the rapture for love’s sake and serve him who is in need. ♥ A long time ago in China there were two friends, one who played the harp skillfully and one who listened skillfully. When the one played or sang about a mountain, the other would say, “I can see the mountain before us.” When the one played about water, the listener would exclaim: “Here is the running stream!” But the listener fell sick and died.  The first friend cut the strings of his harp and never played again. ♥ When a man is singing and cannot lift his [...]

POETRY: On Our Own

March 19, 2014

Solitude (1) Tomas Tranströmer I was nearly killed here, one night in February. My car shivered, and slewed sideways on the ice, right across into the other lane. The slur of traffic came at me with their [...]

SOLITUDE: Solitude by Joan Chittister

March 18, 2014

From The Gift of Years “For a younger person,” Carl Jung taught, “it is almost a sin – and certainly a danger – to be too much occupied with himself.  But for the aging person it is a duty and a necessity to give serious attention to himself.  After having lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to illumine itself.” Carl Jung, the great psychologist of the inner life, brought to human awareness the notion that life develops in stages, some of them more centered on the outside world, others of them focused almost entirely on interiority, on reflection, on the search for meaning.  The end stage of life, it seems, has something to do with making sense out of everything that has [...]

REFLECTION: Islands, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

August 15, 2013

From Gift From The Sea How wonderful are islands!  Islands in space, like this one I have come to, ringed about by miles of water, linked by no bridges, no cables, no telephones.  An island from the world and the world’s life.  Islands in time, like this short vacation of mine.  The past and the future are cut off; only the present remains.  Existence in the present gives island living an extreme vividness and purity.  One lives like a child or a saint in the immediacy of here and now.  Every day, every act, is an island, washed by time and space, and has an island’s completion.  People, too, become like islands in such an atmosphere, self-contained, whole and serene; respecting other people’s solitude, not intruding on their [...]

LENT: Fourth Sunday in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

March 10, 2013

From Show Me The Way God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but Yahweh looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) Secularity is a way of being dependent on the responses of our milieu.  The secular or false self is the self which is fabricated, as Thomas Merton says, by social compulsions.  “Compulsive” is indeed the best adjective for the false self.  It points to the need for ongoing and increasing affirmation.  Who am I?  I am the one who is liked, praised, admired, disliked, hated, or despised.  The compulsion manifests itself in the lurking fear of falling and the steady urge to prevent this by gathering more of the same – more work, more money, more friends. These very compulsions are at the [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Monday Of The Third Week Of Lent

March 5, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Walking alone with God You shall test the teaching that you follow, walking alone with God at your side. For Elijah was at the river Chorath alone, God was with him, and the raven ministered to him. (1 Kings 17:1-7) The prophet was also walking alone; he took Paul’s belt and bound himself. (Acts 21:11) When you fell into sin you won A brother went to draw water from the river.  He found a woman washing clothes and it happened that he fell into sin with her.  After the sin, he took his water and was returning to his cell, but the demons, by means of his thoughts, trampled on him and afflicted him, saying, “Where are you going?  After this, [...]

SERMON: The Thomist Football League by Martin Thornton

February 28, 2013

From A Joyful Heart: Meditations for Lent For the sake of the uninitiated let me explain the ramifications of the English football league.  For any possible transatlantic reader it should not be too difficult to translate the analogy into the American game (this might be more difficult when we get on to cricket). The league comprises ninety-two clubs divided into four divisions.  The first division consists of the best, the top grade, and the most wealthy, with magnificent grounds and stadia.  The second division is roughly the same but not quite, and we shall see the significance of this later.  It is also important to see that there are subtle variations within these two divisions themselves, as well as something of an overlap. [...]

LENT: Thursday of the Second Week in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

February 28, 2013

From Show Me The Way I, Yahweh, search the heart, test the motives, to give each person what his conduct and his actions deserve. —Jeremiah 17:10 It is not so difficult to see that, in our particular world, we all have a strong desire to accomplish something.  Some of us think in terms of great dramatic changes in the structure of our society.  Others want at least to build a house, write a book, invent a machine, or win a trophy.  And some of us seem to be content when we just do something worthwhile for someone.  But practically all of us think about ourselves in terms of our contribution to life.  And when we have become old, much of our feelings of happiness or sadness depends on our evaluation of the part we played in giving [...]

MORNING DEW: Here I Am, Lord, by Michel Quoist

February 2, 2013

Translated by Agnes M. Forsythe and Anne Marie de Commaille Here I Am, Lord Tonight, Lord, I am alone. Little by little the sounds died down in the church, The people went away, And I came home, Alone. I passed people who were returning from a walk. I went by the movie house that was disgorging its crowd. I skirted café terraces where tired strollers were trying to prolong the pleasure of a Sunday holiday. I bumped into youngsters, who will never be my own. Here I am, Lord, Alone. The silence troubles me, The solitude oppresses [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 4

December 4, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The Conflict of the Heart Abba Antony said, “The person who dwells in the desert and practices contemplative quiet is freed from three conflicts: those of hearing and speech and sight.  He has only a single conflict: that of the heart.” Fish Headed For the Sea Abba Antony said, “Just as fish die if they stay too long on dry land, monks who loiter outside their cells or spend their time with those living in the world lose the intensity of contemplative quiet.  Therefore, like the fish headed for the sea, we must hasten to our cells lest in loitering outside we forget our interior watchfulness.” Illuminations Received in Solitude Since Abba Bishoy was always [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 3

December 3, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Opening the Door Another time when the archbishop wanted to approach Arsenius, he first sent someone to see if the old man would open his door to him.  Arsenius sent word to him, saying, “If you come, I will open my door to you; and if I open my door to you, I will open it to everyone, and then I will no longer live here.” When the archbishop heard this, he said, “If I drive him away by going to see him, I will no longer journey to see the saint.” Stay Away from Arsenius Blessed Archbishop Theophilus, in the company of a certain provincial governor, once approached Abba Arsenius.  The archbishop asked Arsenius a question, wanting to hear a word from him. [...]

SERMON: Loneliness And Solitude, by Paul Tillich

September 9, 2012

And when he had sent multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23) “He was there, alone.”  So are we.  Man is alone because he is man!  In some way every creature is alone.  In majestic isolation every star travels through the darkness of endless space.  Each tree grows according to its own law, fulfilling its unique possibilities.  Animals live, fight and die for themselves alone, confined to the limitations of their bodies.  Certainly, they also appear as male and female, in families and in flocks.  Some of them are gregarious.  But all of them are alone!  Being alive means being in a body — a body separated from all other bodies.  And being [...]