We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. What do I mean by loving ourselves properly? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others.
~Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear Brothers [and Sisters], we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.
Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny…. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in God’s creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity….
It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as God reveals himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation. We do not know clearly beforehand what the result of this work will be. The secret of my full identity is hidden in God. God alone can make me who I am, or rather who I will be when at last I fully begin to be. But unless I desire this identity and work to find it with God and in God, the work will never be done. The way of doing it is a secret I can learn from no one else but God.
~Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
So tell the earth to shake
With marching feet
Of messengers of peace
Proclaim my law of love
To every nation
~Thomas Merton, from his poem “Earthquake”
Humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God.
~Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.
~Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours