Thomas Merton was an Apostle of Acceptance.

Merton carried an abiding awareness of the broken reality of all existence. But he taught that we need to see the flawed nature of reality as a gift not a threat and accept life as it comes to us.

Here are a few examples of Merton’s call to acceptance:

Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and Writer. The Journals of Thomas Merton.Volume 2:1941-1952. Jonathan Montaldo, ed. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.

July 2, 1948There is only one way to peace: be reconciled that of yourself you are what you are. 217

Thoughts In Solitude. Boston: Shambala Publications, Inc., 1993. (originally published 1958)

To really know our ‘nothingness’ we must also love it. And we cannot love it unless we see that it is good. And we cannot see that it is good unless we accept it….  To love our ‘nothingness’ in this way, we must repudiate nothing that is our own, nothing that we have, nothing that we are. We must see and admit that it is all ours and that it is all good: good in its positive entity since it comes from God: good in our deficiency, since our helplessness, even our moral misery, our spiritual, attracts to us the mercy of God. 38,39

The more we are content with our own poverty, the closer we are to God, for then we accept our poverty in peace, expecting nothing from ourselves and everything from God. / Poverty is the door to freedom, not because we remain imprisoned in the anxiety and constraint which poverty of itself implies, but because, finding nothing in ourselves that is a source of hope, we know there is nothing in ourselves worth defending. 52

The value of our weakness and of our poverty is that they are the earth in which God sows the seed of desire. And no matter how abandoned we may seem to be, the confident desire to love Him in spite of our abject misery is the sign of His presence and the pledge of our salvation. 54

Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer: where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is all in all. / For this to be so I must be really poor. I must seek nothing: but I must be most content with whatever I have from God. 104, 105

The Silent Life. NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1957.

true humility is calm and peaceful. It accepts our limitations, it is not surprised at imperfection or even at sin. 107

A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life. Volume 3: 1952-1960. Lawrence S. Cunningham, ed. San Francisco HarperCollins, 1996.

September 7, 1958Fair day of recollection in the new chapel, and I was happy in it and accepted its imperfections, and accepted everything. That is all that is needed. When you accept what you have you see all you have received more than enough and you are overwhelmed. I desire other things because I fear to be content with what I have – I fear it is inglorious. In the last few days I have seen what matters is to be humble enough to admit I am content with just this. Leave the rest to God. 216

October 2, 1958my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself – and if I accept myself fully in the right way I will already have surpassed myself. For it is the unaccepted self that stands in my way – and will continue to do so as long as it is not accepted. When it has been accepted – it is my own stepping stone to what is above me. Because this is the way man has been made by God – and original sin was the effort to surpass oneself by being ‘like God’ – i.e. unlike oneself. But our Godlikeness beings at home. We must first become like ourselves, and stop living ‘beside ourselves.’ 220, 221

Turning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years. The Journals of Thomas Merton Volume 4: 1960-1963. Victor A. Kramer, ed. San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.

July 31, 1961 During night office and morning meditation, seeing that my whole life is a struggle to seek the truth (at least I want it to be so) and that the truth is found in the reality of my own life as it is given to me, and that it is found by complete consent and acceptance. Not at all by defeat; by mere passive resignation, by mere inert acceptance of evil and falsity (which are nevertheless unavoidable) but by ‘creative’ consent, in my deepest self to the will of God which is expressed in my own self and my own life. 146

Life And Holiness. NY: Doubleday, 1995. (originally published, 1963)

We can only become saints by facing ourselves, by assuming full responsibility for our lives just as they are, with all their handicaps and limitations. 56

Contemplation in a World of Action. NY: Image Books, 1971.

this capacity for solitude is nothing else than the full affirmation of one’s identity, that is to say, the complete acceptance of oneself as will by God and of one’s lot as given by God. 94