Solitude, not Isolation

December 28, 2013

In one of the first volumes of his journals, Thomas Merton wrote that he felt that the actions and prayers of the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani — an appropriately ineffable place — held together the United States. What, among other things, would the monks do? Chant the psalms seven times daily, every day, at regular times between 3:15a and 7:30p, since Christmas Eve 1847. Pray a lot. Study. Farm. Make cheese and bourbon fudge these days.

And this:

"The mystical experience is certainly an experience of the person, but it is not an individualist act. Its repercussions propagate like ripples reaching all around a lakeshore. This metaphor is to be understood as saying that the flow of waves itself is what allows new ones to form. The solitude of the solitary is relative to the community in contrast to which he is solitary; this is why it is not isolation. Just a handful of righteous sustains humanity, Jewish mysticism holds" (Raimon Panikkar, emphasis added).