“… In solitude I have at last discovered that You have desired the love of my heart …” ~ Thomas Merton

merton solitude

Only solitude has taught me that I do not have to be
a god or an angel to be pleasing to You,
that I do not have to become a pure intelligence
without feeling and without human imperfection
before You will listen to my voice.

You do not wait for me to become great before
You will be with me and hear me and answer me.

It is my lowliness and my humanness that have
drawn You to make me Your equal by
condescending to my level and living in me
by Your merciful care.

And now it is Your desire,
not that I give You the thanks
and recognition You receive
from Your great angels,
but the love and gratitude that
comes from the heart of a child,
a son of woman, Your own Son.

My Father, I know You have called me
to live alone with You, and
to learn that if I were not a mere man,
a mere human being capable of
all mistakes and all evil, also capable of
a frail and errant human affection for You,

I would not be capable of being Your son.

You desire the love of a man’s heart because
Your Divine Son also loves You with a man’s Heart
and He became Man in order that my heart and
His Heart should love You in one love, which is
a human love born and moved by Your Holy Spirit.

If therefore I do not love You with a man’s love
and with a man’s simplicity and with the humility
to be myself I will never taste the full
sweetness of Your Fatherly mercy,

and Your Son, as far as my life goes,
will have died in vain.

It is necessary that I be human and remain human
in order that the Cross of Christ be not made void.

Jesus died not for the angels but for men.
This is what I learn from the Psalms in solitude,
for the Psalms are full of the human simplicity
of men like David who knew God as men
and loved Him as men, and therefore
knew Him, the One true God, Who would
send His only begotten Son to men in the
likeness of man that they, while still remaining men,
might love Him with a divine love.

And this is the mystery of our vocation:
not that we cease to be men in order to
become angels or gods, but that the
love of my man’s heart can become
God’s love for God and men, and
my human tears can fall from my eyes
as the tears of God because they well up

from the motion of His Spirit in the
heart of His incarnate Son.

Hence—the Gift of Piety grows in solitude,
nourished by the Psalms.

When this is learned, then our love of
other men becomes pure and strong.

We can go out to them without vanity
and without complacency, loving them
with something of the purity and gentleness
and hiddenness of God’s love for us.

This is the true fruit and the true purpose of Christian solitude.

~ Thomas Merton

Stillness Speaks Teacher page for Thomas Merton will be coming soon.


Excerpt (including opening quote) from Thoughts In Solitude by Merton, Thomas.
Images (edited and logo added): 1 &  featured) Autumn Forest by Robert_CCCO Public Domain.
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