“Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestion of advertising and propaganda.”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
Remembering Thomas Merton, who was born 100 years ago. After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists), the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order. Thomas became an influential American writer, poet, mystic, and social activist. He wrote more than 60 books on a variety of topics that became international best sellers. “No Man is an Island” and his autobiography “The Seven Storey Mountain” are profound and essential spiritual literature.
If Thomas Merton lived today he may have added the emergence of social media and all the personal electronic toys that we use to stay “connected” around the clock. I live in a place with no cell coverage. Until a few weeks ago we had no internet. Once a week I did go the library to reconnect with the world. Not a problem. I found time to observe the subtle changes in color during sunrise, watch the fog rise and descend, spend precious moments with my dogs when they were not working. And I found time to reflect.
Even with the best intentions, as Thomas says, now that the ever present internet has arrived at out remote cabin, I spend more time surfing the virtual world than before. Thank you for reminding me, there is a natural world out there that deserves my attention.