Peculiar Grace of a Shaker Chair

"The peculiar grace of a Shaker chair is due to the fact that it has been made by someone capable of believing that an angel might come and sit on it."
— Seeking Paradise

To Be a Saint

"For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self."
— The Golden Age of Zen by John C. H. Wu

Silence Builds Temple of God

"To be alone by being part of the universe — fitting in completely into an environment of woods and silence and peace. Everything you do becomes a unity and a prayer. Unity within and without. Unity with all living things — without effort or contention. My silence is part of the whole world's silence and builds the temple of God without the noise of hammers."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

Reunion of Divided Church

"If I can unite in myself, in my own spiritual life, the thought of the East and the West, of the Greek and Latin Fathers, I will create in myself a reunion of the divided Church."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

The Blessing of Stability

"A cool and lovely morning, clear-sky, ever-changing freshness of woods and valley! One has to be in the same place every day, watch the dawn from the same house, hear the same birds wake each morning, to realize how inexhaustibly rich and different is "sameness." This is the blessing of stability."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

Leave Myself in God's Hands

"I leave myself in God's hands to work out my sanctification as He planned. In order to arrive at what I cannot understand, I must go by the way I cannot understand. And each time that I make up my mind to do this, I am more convinced that He will lead me by the way of solitude. Every time I pray, get into my cloud, get recollected, that desire and that conviction deepen. I only need to leave everything absolutely to Him and go blindly where He leads me."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

Receiving an Honor

"A very small, gold-winged moth came and settled on the back of my hand, and sat there, so light that I could not feel it. I wondered at the beauty and delicacy of this being — so perfectly made, with mottled golden wings. So perfect. I wonder if there is even a name for it. I never saw such a thing before. It would not go away until, needing my hand, I blew it lightly into the woods."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

All These Things Combine

"Literature, contemplation, solitude, Latin America, Asia, Zen, Islam, etc. All these things combine in my life. It would be madness to make a "monasticism" by simply excluding them. I would be less a monk. Others have their own way, I have mine."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

The One Thing Necessary

"The one thing necessary is a true interior and spiritual life, true growth, on my own, in depth, in a new direction. Whatever new direction God opens up for me. My job is to press forward, to grow interiorly, to pray, to break away from attachments and to defy fears, to grow in faith, which has its own solitude, to seek an entirely new perspective and new dimension in my life. To open up new horizons at any cost. To desire this and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. But really to desire this and work for it."
— A Year with Thomas Merton

Deep Solitude

"It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers and sisters. The more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them. It is pure affection and filled with reverence for the solitude of others. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers and sisters for what they are, not for what they say."
— Living Peaceby John Dear

If Men Wanted Peace

"If men really wanted peace they would sincerely ask God for it and He would give it to them. But why should He give the world a peace which it does not really desire? The peace the world pretends to desire is really no peace at all.

"To some men peace merely means the liberty to exploit other people without fear of retaliation or interference. To others peace means the freedom to rob others without interruption. To still others it means the leisure to devour the goods of the earth without being compelled to interrupt their pleasures to feed those whom their greed is starving. And to practically everybody peace simply means the absence of any physical violence that might cast a shadow over lives devoted to the satisfaction of their animal appetites for comfort and pleasure."
— Thomas Merton: Essential Writings

Liberated By Silence

"When I am liberated by silence, when I am no longer involved in the measurement of life, but in the living of it, I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively, no distraction. My whole life becomes a prayer. My whole silence is full of prayer. The world of silence in which I am immersed contributes to my prayer."
— Living Peaceby John Dear

Teach Me to be Satisfied

"O God, teach me to be satisfied with my own helplessness in the spiritual life. Teach me to be content with Your grace that comes to me in darkness and that works things I cannot see. Teach me to be happy that I can depend on You. To depend on You should be enough for an eternity of joy. To depend on You by itself ought to be infinitely greater than any joy which my own intellectual appetite could desire."
— Dialogues with Silence

The Trees Indeed Love You

"The trees indeed love You without knowing You. Without being aware of Your presence, the tiger lilies and cornflowers proclaim that they love You. The beautiful dark clouds ride slowly across the sky musing on You like children who do not know what they are dreaming of as they play."
— Dialogues with Silence

To Keep Spiritually Alive

"To keep ourselves spiritually alive we must continually renew our faith. We are like pilots of fog-bound steamers, peering into the gloom in front of us, listening for the sounds of other ships, and we can only reach our harbor if we keep alert. The spiritual life is, then, first of all a matter of keeping awake. . . . always able to respond to the slightest warnings that speak, as though by a hidden by instinct, in the depth of the soul that is spiritually alive."
— We Walk the Path Together by Brian J. Pierce

The Hope of Results

"Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself."
— Thomas Merton: Essential Writings

Unity of All Christians

"If I can unite in myself the thought and the devotion of Eastern and Western Christendom, the Greek and the Latin Fathers, the Russians with the Spanish mystics, I can prepare in myself the reunion of divided Christians. From that secret and unspoken unity in myself can eventually come a visible and manifest unity of all Christians."
— Thomas Merton: Essential Writings

Nonviolence is Most Exacting Struggle

"Nonviolence is perhaps the most exacting of all forms of struggle, not only because it demands first of all that one be ready to suffer evil and even face the threat of death without violent retaliation, but because it excludes mere transient self-interest from its considerations. In a very real sense, those who practice nonviolent resistance must commit themselves not to the defense of their own interests or even those of a particular group: they must commit themselves to the defense of objective truth and right and above all of human beings."
— Peace Is the Way edited by Walter Wink

Preoccupations are Not Important

"The bells break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important. The bells say: we have spoken for centuries from the towers of the great Churches. We have spoken to the saints, your fathers, in their land. We called them, as we call you, to sanctity."
— A Good Life by Robert Benson

Vocation to Solitude

"[A vocation to solitude means] . . . to deliver oneself up, to hand oneself over, entrust oneself completely to the silence of a wide landscape of woods and hills, or sea, or desert; to sit still while the sun comes up over that land and fills its silences with light. To pray and work in the morning and to labour and rest in the afternoon, and to sit still again in meditation in the evening when night falls upon that land and when the silence fills itself with darkness and with stars. This is a true and special vocation. There are a few who are willing to belong completely to such silence, to let it soak into their bones, to breathe nothing but silence, to feed on silence, and to turn to the very substance of their life into a living and vigilant silence."
— The Artist's Rule by Christine Valters Paintner