"The Christian solitary does not seek solitude merely as an atmosphere or as a setting for a special and exalted spirituality. Nor does he seek solitude as a favorable means for obtaining something he wants — contemplation. He seeks solitude as an expression of his total gift of himself to God," writes Trappist monk Thomas Merton in this reprint of his 1956 spiritual classic.

The author states that solitude is "not just a recipe for hermits" but a means to keeping society together. Individuals need a retreat from the exigencies and pressures of work in order to dialogue with God. Merton outlines some aspects of the spiritual life that set the stage for solitude: gratitude, keeping awake, practicing humility, listening, and unifying our lives. He sees silence as "the mother of truth" and as a divine milieu. He calls the Psalms "the true garden of the solitary." By surrendering ourselves to God, we nurture our love for others while we are apart from them. This is "the true fruit and the true purpose of Christian solitude."