i've been quoting a lot from this book by thomas merton of late. maybe because it's the only thing that has really been speaking to me of what i've been reading (along with lord of the rings). or maybe because it is just that good. i thought about typing out the entire first chapter as a post because i felt it spoke about love so well. the quotes i do select to put on here are by no means the only ones that are worthy of it. and unfortunately they lose a bit of their clout removed from their context. still i hope you are finding them speaking to you. this is a book i want to let sink in me more. so good.
though i understand that certain things speak better to us when we are at a certain place in life, i still recommend this book strongly to anyone and everyone. go check it out if you are so inclined. here are a few more quotes i read today from the chapter on sincerity.
Fear is perhaps the greatest enemy of candor. How many men fear to follow their conscience because they would rather conform to the opinion of other men than to the truth they know in their hearts! How can I be sincere if I am constantly changing my mind to conform with the shadow of what I think others expect of me? Others have no right to demand that I be anything else than what I ought to be in the sight of God. No greater thing could possibly be asked of a man than this! This one just expectation, which I am bound to fulfill, is precisely the one they usually do not expect me to fulfill. They want me to be what I am in their sight: that is, an extension of themselves. They do not realize that if I am fully myself, my life will become the completion and the fulfillment of their own, but that if I live as their shadow, I will serve only to remind them of their own unfulfillment.
If I allow myself to degenerate into the being I am imagined to be by other men, God will have to say to me, "I know you not!"
The delicate sincerity of grace is never safe in a soul given to human violence. Passion always troubles the clear depths of sincerity, expect when it is perfectly in order. And passion is almost never perfectly in order, even in the souls of saints.
But the clean waters of a lake are not made dirty by the wind that ruffles their surface. Sincerity can suffer something of the violence of passion without too much harm, as long as the violence is suffered and not accepted.
Violence is fatal to sincerity when we yield it our consent, and it is completely fatal when we find peace in passion rather than in tranquillity and calm.
If we are to love sincerely, and with simplicity, we must first of all overcome the fear of not being loved. And this cannot be done by forcing ourselves to believe in some illusion, saying that we are loved when we are not. We must somehow strip ourselves of our greatest illusions about ourselves, frankly recognize in how many ways we are unlovable, descend into the depths of our being until we come to the basic reality that is in us, and learn to see that we are lovable after all, in spite of everything!
This is a difficult job. It can only really be done by a lifetime of genuine humility. But sooner or later we must distinguish between what we are not and what we are. We must accept the fact that we are not what we would like to be. We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap and showy garment that it is. We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty but also in its very great and very simple dignity: created to be a child of God, and capable of loving with something of God's own sincerity and His unselfishness.