What is the truth? It is not the answer to any question that we know how to ask. Can there be a truth that saves, can there be salvation, for those who have learned of life not to believe in salvation? Only on the other side of pain…the pained embarrassment at the words Jesus Saves, which at its heart is a pained embarrassment at our own nakedness and incompleteness…pain that brought tears to the eyes…of hope betrayed…the pain of the good thief, which is the pain of surrender, the pain of acknowledging finally our utter helplessness to save ourselves.”

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Sign by the Highway”

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I must become convinced and penetrated by the realization that without my love for [another] they may perhaps not achieve the things God has willed for them.

My love must be to them the “sacrament” of the mysterious and infinitely selfless love God has for them.

The words I speak to them must be no other than the words of Christ Who deigns to reveal Himself to them in me.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

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If we are going to love others at all, we must make up our minds to love them well. Otherwise our love is a delusion.

We must first of all purify our love by renouncing the pleasure of loving as an end in itself. As long as pleasure is our end, we will be dishonest with ourselves and with those we love. We will not seek their good, but our own pleasure.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

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It is clear, then, that to love others well we must first love the truth.

The truth we must love in loving our brothers is the concrete destiny and sanctity that are willed for them by the love of God.

The truth I must love in my brother is God Himself, living in him. I must seek the love of the Spirit of God breathing in him.

— Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

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We draw near to him by following him even on clumsy and reluctant feet and without knowing more than two cents’ worth at first about what is involved in following him — into the seventy-five-mile-an-hour, neon-lit pain of our world.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Sign by the Highway”

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I think…there is…hope that, if not tomorrow or the next day, then some fine day, somehow, life will finally give us the present that, when we open it, will turn out to be the one we have waited for so long, the one that will fill the empty place, which is the peace that passeth all understanding, which is the truth, salvation, whatever we want to call it. But one by one, as we open the presents, no matter how rich and wondrous they are, we discover that not one of them by itself, nor even all of them taken together, is the one of our deepest desiring — that ultimately, although her face is beautiful and draws us to her, life by herself does not have that final present to give.

Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, “The Sign by the Highway”

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