|"Solitude," 5 x 7 watercolor holiday greeting card|
"Keep your eyes clean and your ears quiet and your mind serene. Breathe God's air. Work, if you can, under His sky."
--Thomas Merton on "Solitude"
I think America's Great Plains, the land of wide open spaces, far horizons, and relatively sparse populations are idea for what the great Trappist monk Merton had in mind, as he wrote about God's people combatting the illusions of America's materialistic and political chaos. He also had advice for those having to work in cities.
But as December deepens the solitude forced on us this pandemic year, I notice that most of us are reevaluating what is really important in our lives. We miss interaction with friends and families. We can stock up on groceries, and order essentials on line, knowing how little we really need. The virus is exposing the great weakness of a capitalistic society...what happens when people quit shopping?
You see that almost every day as societies try to put the "economy" above safety, not just for the corporations but for the thousands out of work, facing untold financial hardship, hunger and worse.
While I need time alone, I don't like being "cooped up," even as an introvert. That's when I imagine living in a farmhouse, on some lonesome road in the Texas panhandle, enjoying the wide open spaces, the silence, the big sky where you can breathe free. But I'd also value driving into town just to see people.
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