05 February 2009

"Life is on our side" -- Thomas Merton to Czeslaw Milosz

Just got a start on the letters between Merton and Milosz, entitled Striving Towards Being. A mentor recommended the book, and the title sealed the deal. I feel I've come across these letters before in undergrad, but this morning, these passages -- on integrity and our own dishonesty -- stood out to me.

There has to be a third position, a position of integrity, which refuses subjection to the pressures of the two massive groups ranged against each other in the world. It is quite simply obvious that the future, in plain dialectical terms, rests with those of us who risk our heads and our necks and everything in the difficult, fantastic job of finding out the new position, the ever-changing and moving “line” that is NO line at all because it cannot be traced out by political dogmatists. And that is the difficulty, and the challenge. I am the last in the world to pretend to know anything about it. One thing I do know, is that anyone who is interested in God Who is Truth, has to break out of the ready-made shells of the “captive” positions that offer their convenient escapes from freedom — one who loves freedom must go through the painful experience of seeking it, perhaps without success (4).

In silence and suffering, in the heartbreaking effort to be honest in the midst of dishonesty (most of all our own dishonesty), in all these is victory (19).

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