Sooner or later the world must burn

In choir the less I worried about the singing, the more I was possessed by Love. There is a lesson in that about being poor. You have got to be all the time cooperating with Love in this house, and Love sets a fast pace even at the beginning and, if you don’t keep up, you’ll get dropped. And yet, any speed is too slow for Love – and no speed is too fast for you if you will only let Love drag you off your feet – after that you will have to sail the whole way. But our instinct is to get off and start walking…

I want to be poor. I want to be solitary. This business burns me. “My strength is dried up like a potsherd” (Psalm 21:16). I am all dried up with desire and I can only think of one thing – staying in the fire that burns me.

Sooner or later the world must burn, and all things in it – all the books, the cloister together with the brothel, Fra Angelico together with the Lucky Strike ads. Sooner or later it will all be consumed by fire and nobody will be left, for by that time the last man in the universe will have discovered the bomb capable of destroying the universe and will have been unable to resist the temptation to throw the thing and get it over with.

And here I sit writing in a diary.

But Love laughs at the end of the world because Love is the door to eternity, and he who loves is playing on the doorstep of eternity, and before anything can happen, Love will have drawn him over the sill and closed the door, and he won’t bother about the world burning because he will know nothing but Love.

Thomas Merton, journal entry – October 3 & 10, 1948

lighted candle

Photo by Rahul on

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