Monday, July 27, 2009

Although I am not religious (I consider myself to be a Buddhist) one of my favourite spiritual writers is the Trappist-Catholic-Buddhist monk, Thomas Merton. I subscribe to the Merton Institute for a weekly reflection. The words that arrived in my email box the week before I left for the camino was like a message to a prospective hospitalera! I would like to share it here, with credit to the Merton Institute:

"Persons are known not by the intellect alone, nor by principles alone, but only by love. It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who he is and who we are. It is only this realization that can open to us the real nature of our duty, and of right action. To shut out the person and to refuse to consider him as a person, as another self, we resort to the impersonal "law" and "nature." That is to say we block off the reality of the other, we cut the intercommunication of our nature and his nature, and we consider only our own nature with its rights, its claims, its demands. In effect, however, we are considering our nature in the concrete and his nature in the abstract. And we justify the evil we do to our brother because he is no longer a brother, he is merely an adversary, an accused, an evil being.To restore communication, to see our oneness of nature with him, and to respect his personal rights, integrity, his worthiness of love, we have to see ourselves as accused along with him, condemned to death along with him, sinking into the abyss with him, and needing, with him, the ineffable gift of grace and mercy to be saved."
Thomas Merton. Seeds of Destruction (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1961): 254-255.


  1. Thank you, Sil. I like Thomas Merton as well.
    I thought I was going to be a hospitalera in Conques for two weeks in late August, but my right foot has given up and by the time it's fixed it would still not be in shape for all the work involved there.
    So I feel a bit sad.
    But I love reading your thoughts on your time as hospitalera. And all the other thoughts as well :-)

  2. Oh my. Beautifully said. Thank you for sharing. I can't tell you how timely this post is.