It has been a Merton filled week for me. I am a fortunate “itinerant” in that I get invited to many exciting places and am afforded the opportunity to listen to other wanderers that have spent a good deal of their time learning about interesting people like Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen.
Pursuant to one such chance encounter with several scholarly types I spent the week reading and reflecting on Merton’s writings. I found the short quotation above to be simple yet profound and also a bit confusing as Merton was a man who fought to spend so much of his time alone in solitude.
Merton seems to acknowledge that while times of solitude are absolutely necessary for spiritual growth our true destiny is to live in community with others and to love them and accept love in return.
I was talking with someone the other day about the life of Henri Nouwen. This individual was a personal friend of Henri. He shared with me that Nouwen spent his life trying to be a good follower of Jesus, and he found the best way to do this was to follow Christ’s example. Jesus would pray in solitude and quiet. He would join his community, the disciples, to be nourished, and then he would go into to the world to live a life of compassion.
Merton seems to be encouraging us onto a very similar path to find our true destiny.