Thomas Merton: Everything in Unity
Out here there is no complexity and no confusion—there is no contradiction between work and prayer
In this letter, Thomas Mertonconsiders his experience at the newly erected tool shed, which he has named St. Anne's, and reveals how his solitude there has deepened his life with God. He reflects on the tranquility of the space and how everything is unified and centered in God.
January 20, 1953
Abbot James Fox O.C.S.O,
I thought we ought to have a name for the new “refuge” (an old toolshed moved to a wooded hill overlooking the hills to the east) and I chose the name St. Anne's, if you approve.
Having been out here almost all day for two days, I find time goes by much too fast, and it is always time to go home much too soon. It is the first time in my life — 37 years — that I have had a real conviction of doing what I am really called by God to do. It is the first time I have ever felt that I have “arrived” — like a river that has been running through a deep canyon and now has come out into the plains — and is within sight of the ocean.
Funnily enough, it is out here that I have for the first time discovered the real Benedictine values as they are meant to be. Silence, simplicity, poverty, peace, and above all I seem to be much more able to keep my eye on the will of God. Out here there is no complexity and no confusion—there is no contradiction between work and prayer, everything is in unity and all is truly centered in God...
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Thomas Merton (1915 - 1968) was an American Trappist monk, poet, social activist, and author. In his writings, he explored themes of spirituality and human nature, often exploring their interconnections. He was a well-known pacifist and a voice of conscience during the turbulent years of the 1960s. He wrote more than sixty books, including spiritual autobiographies, contemplative writings, poetry, and social criticism. We once said: "Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worth it."
Merton, Thomas. Thomas Merton: A Life in Letters: The Essential Collection. United Kingdom: HarperCollins, 2008.