Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitely rich, full of inexhaustible interest, opening out into infinite further possibilities for study and contemplation and interest and praise.
– Thomas Merton
There standeth the boat — thither goeth it over, perhaps into vast nothingness — but who willeth to enter into this “Perhaps”?
None of you want to enter into the death-boat! How should ye then be WORLD-WEARY ones!
World-weary ones! And have not even withdrawn from the earth! Eager did I ever find you for the earth, amorous still of your own earth-weariness!
Not in vain doth your lip hang down: — a small worldly wish still sitteth thereon! And in your eye — floateth there not a cloudlet of unforgotten earthly bliss?
There are on the earth many good inventions, some useful, some pleasant: for their sake is the earth to be loved.
And many such good inventions are there, that they are like woman’s breasts: useful at the same time, and pleasant.
Ye world-weary ones, however! Ye earth-idlers! You, shall one beat with stripes! With stripes shall one again make you sprightly limbs.
For if ye be not invalids, or decrepit creatures, of whom the earth is weary, then are ye sly sloths, or dainty, sneaking pleasure-cats. And if ye will not again RUN gaily, then shall ye — pass away!
Each individual thing is only a sketch of the specific perfection planned for its kind. Why should we ask it to be anything more?
– Thomas Merton
What is great in the human is that it is a bridge and not a goal: what can be loved in the human is that it is a going-over and going-under.
We were locked in this kitchen
I took to religion
And I wondered how long she would stay
I needed so much
To have nothing to touch
I’ve always been greedy that way
– Leonard Cohen, ‘Night Comes On’
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always -
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
– T.S. Eliot, from The Four Quartets
After all those lifetimes the Stranger descended from his wooden tower. He walked along the bank and across the cracked lands, still watching. There were no chapels yet. Leopards licked his feet. His solitude was perfect. He passed through the settlements, from Jerusalem to Constantinople to New York: a slow-moving, alien figure on the horizon. Patient. He sat for years with someone’s ancestor in a dusty room, he walked unnoticed beside pageants and riots held in his honour. Always beside. Bent and cloaked. Chapels were built with rocks of dubious origin, towers rose and fell in his name. Still his solitude guards against the terror.