Thomas Merton was a lonely man until he found God and his loneliness turned to solitude. This led him to a monastic life of contemplation and compassion. He became a spiritual guide for Trappist scholars and novices – and for his reading public. He was hungry for human intimacy, but even more hungry for intimacy with God. ‘True solitude is deeply aware of the world’s needs. It does not hold the world at arm’s length,’ he wrote. The actual Christian task involves ‘accepting ourselves as we are in our confusion, infidelity, disruption, ferment, and even desperation.’ ‘The monk is not defined by his task, his usefulness: in a certain sense he is supposed to be useless, because his mission is not to do this or that job but to be a man of God.’

My God, by Your grace, turn my loneliness to solitude that I may know You more and more. Help me to accept myself with all my contradictions, and to accept others as those made in Your own image. May I learn to be and not only to do, and so please You, Lord. Amen.