Thomas Merton (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968) was an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist and scholar of comparative religion. On May 26, 1949, he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood and given the name "Father Louis". He was a member of the Abbey of...
The silence of the forest is my bride and the sweet dark warmth of the whole world is my love, and out of the heart of that dark warmth comes the secret that is heard only in silence, but it is the root of all the secrets that are whispered by all the lovers in their beds all over the world.
Why do monks live in seclusion? That is asking why does a scientist work in a laboratory, or why does a sailor go on a ship or why does a duck swim in water. Why does a man go to his bedroom and get in bed when he wants to go to sleep? Why doesn't he lie down in the middle of the street? A monk seeks silence and solitude because there his mind and heart can relax and expand and attain to a new perspective: there too he can hear the Word of God. . . . An apt saying of the Muslim Sufis comes to mind here: "The hen does not lay eggs in the marketplace.
In the Koran, Allah asks, "The heaven and the earth and all in between, thinkest thou I made them in jest?" It's a good question. What do we think of the created universe, spanning an unthinkable void with an unthinkable profusion of forms? . . . If the giant water bug was not made in jest, was it then made in earnest?
Moses sees the bush as it actually is. . . . All that is living burns. This is the fundamental fact of nature. And Moses saw it with his own two eyes directly. That glimpse of the real world — of the world as it is known to God — is not a world of isolated things but of processes in concert. God tells Moses, "Take off your shoes, because the ground where you are standing is holy ground." He is asking Moses to experience in his own body what the burning bush experiences: a living connection between heaven and earth, the life that stretches out like taffy between our father the sun and our mother the earth. If you do not believe this, take off your shoes and stand in the grass or in the sand or in the dirt.