06 January 2008


"We are exiles in the far end of solitude, living as listeners
With hearts attending to the skies we cannot understand."

Recently I found the quote above by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk at Gethsemane monastery, in
Kentucky. He was a famous poet and essayist, even before he withdrew into contemplative life.
On the opening page of the website for the monastery is this verse from Psalms: "Alone in God
my soul waiting, silent."

Merton wrote that he could not get enough solitude, especially after he became famous.

I visited Gethsemane, in about 1970, and at their table ate a simple meal, which occurs in total silence. You probably would not be surprised that mentally I was wondering whether I should become a monk. Not likely, since I was not Catholic!--and, probably not sufficiently withdrawn from the world.

My mom WAS rather hermetic, beginning around 1964, when she became vegetarian and would not cut her hair, and dropped out of the Baptist church, where she had been a fixture. She was probably the most spiritual person I have ever encountered. My brothers do not understand her in this way. They think she was loopy. But, I'll be eternally grateful for her supporting me in my Conscientious Objection during the Vietnam War, when no one else in my family did.

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