The Friendly Communion Of Silence

by solitary walker

I could fruitfully quote so many passages from Thomas Merton‘s meditative book Thoughts In Solitude. These are taken from the third chapter of Part Two, The Love Of Solitude:

“In our age everything has to be a ‘problem’. Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.”

“Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.”

“When solitude was a problem, I had no solitude. When it ceased to be a problem I found I already possessed it, and could have possessed it all along.”

“We put words between ourselves and things. Even God has become another conceptual unreality in a no-man’s land of language that no longer serves as a means of communion with reality.”

“The solitary life, being silent, clears away the smoke-screen of words that man has laid down between his mind and things. In solitude we remain face to face with the naked being of things. And yet we find that the nakedness of reality that we have feared is neither a matter for terror nor for shame. It is clothed in the friendly communion of silence, and this silence is related to love. The world our words have attempted to classify, to control and even to despise (because they could not contain it) comes close to us, for silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it.”

“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 met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men , nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.”