Automatic and compulsive routines that are simply silly – and I don’t take them seriously. All the singing, the “speaking in tongues,” etc. Funny. I see how easily I could go nuts and don’t especially care. I see the huge flaws in myself and don’t know what to do about them. Die of them eventually, I suppose, what else can I do? I live a flawed and inconsequential life, believing in God’s love. But faith can no longer be naïve and sentimental. I cannot explain things away with it. Need for deeper meditation. I certainly see more clearly where I need to go and how (surprising how my prayer in community had really reached a dead end for years and stayed there – fortunately I could get out to the woods and my spirit could breathe). Still, Gethsemani too has to be fully accepted. My long refusal to fully identify myself with the place is futile (and identifying myself in some forlorn and lonesome way would be worse). It is simply where I am, and the monks are who they are: not monks but people, and the younger ones are more truly people than the old ones, who are also good in their own way, signs of a different kind of excellence that is no longer desirable in its accidentals. The essence is the same.
Renounce accusations and excuses.
– Thomas Merton, Dancing in the Water of Life: Seeking Peace in the Hermitage, ed. Robert E. Daggy, The Journals of Thomas Merton, Volume 5: 1963–1965 (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1998), 328.
With thanks to Mary Luti for drawing my attention to some of these words.