The best thing for me is lucid silence that does not even imagine it speaks to anybody. A silence in which I see no interlocutor, frame no message for anyone, formulate no word either for man or paper. There will still be plenty to say when the time comes to write, and what is written will be simpler and more fruitful.
– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, p. 258
It is clear to me that solitude is my vocation, not as a flight from the world but as my place in the world, because for me to find solitude is only to separate myself from all the forces that destroy me and destroy history, in order to be united with the Life and Peace that build the City of God in history and rescue the children of God from hell.
– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, pp. 257-58
Speech is like salt: too little, and we do not taste the flavour of the food; too much, and we are left with the unpleasant taste of the salt. Like salt, our lives and speech are to bring out the ‘flavour’ of Jesus Christ. Too much of ourselves – too much of our talk – will likewise leave an unpleasant taste.
– Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount, p. 60
A love for the world begins in the soul… It begins with a dull conscience and a listless soul. Sin does not grieve him like it once did. Passion for the Savior begins to cool. Affections grow dim. Excitement lessens for participating in the local church. Eagerness to evangelize starts to wane. Growth in godliness slows to a crawl.
– C. J. Mahaney, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, p. 20
Standing on rock. Present. The reality of the present and of solitude divorced from past and future. To be collected and gathered up in clarity and silence and to belong to God and to be nobody else’s business…
To belong to God I have to belong to myself. I have to be alone – at least interiorly alone. This means the constant renewal of a decision. I cannot belong to people. None of me belongs to anybody but God. Absolute loneliness of the imagination, the memory, the will…
Now my whole life is this – to keep unencumbered. The wind owns the fields where I walk and I own nothing and am owned by nothing and I shall never even be forgotten because no one will ever discover me.
– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, p. 253
The great wisdom and security of the soul in dealing with indwelling sin is to put a violent stop unto its beginnings, its first motions and actings. Venture all on the first attempt. Die rather than yield one step unto it.
John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, p. 289
The thing to do when you have made a mistake is not to give up doing what you were doing and start something altogether new, but to start over again with the thing you began badly and try, for the love of God to do it well.
– Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas, p. 242
A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way… A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.
– Eugene H. Peterson, Living the Message, Reflection for January 13
If we believe in God as Creator, we may not divide the world into spiritual and secular. The fact that all reality depends upon the creative word of God means that the word of God must judge the ideas of men about truth and error, not the other way around. Thus the Christian doctrine of the authority of Scripture has its roots in the Creation
– Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom, (Biblical Classics edition), p. 49
What are words for? Here’s Eugene Peterson’s take:
The gift of words is for communion… the only words that matter are words of communion. What is distressing is to find out how infrequently they are used… That makes it urgent that the Christian becomes a specialist in words of communion.
– Eugene H. Peterson, Living the Message, meditation for January 9