More on living intentionally

Today I was blessed with household help of various sorts: cleaning, organizing, and (by the latter) help with the uncluttering process. Letting go of pieces of paper or various resources as well as ideas about what tasks I should be doing for our household has been a learning process for me. Actually, it continues to be! Anyway, we live in the smallest house of our family’s history and yet there is room for what matters. Additionally, my health issues are more complicated than ever before and yet I believe my spirit is healthier.

One of my newer companions for this unclutterer’s journey is Thomas Merton. Thomas understood things that are difficult to understand (which is no doubt why before this year I had no incentive to read him, because he seemed too esoteric for my simple tastes). Thomas also struggled with the things he didn’t understand but, I believe, to the best of his ability he didn’t let that struggle become mental clutter. He wrote out a great deal of his struggling and perhaps that helped keep him uncluttered. Regardless, he kept fighting the good fight to keep his relationship with God and his fellow-man uncluttered.

Thomas kept the faith in a more uncluttered manner than most of us can manage–as that of a contemplative monk–and in combining his gift for writing with his vocation has helped many of us living out our lives (albeit in a different sort of community) to be less cluttered in our own faith. After all, we share in common with him what was at the core of his vocation: loving God by loving those in our community, whatever that looks like. The thing I find wonderfully intentional about Thomas was that he was not worried about accomplishment in his community (or, for that matter, in the writing community either). Instead of being focused on results he chose instead to focus on the process, to be who God had called him to be in this life as the best preparation for the next. As a result, I think Thomas was able to be the remarkable person that he was because of his commitment to live intentionally and leave the results in God’s hands.

For each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His Kingdom….For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.

Why do we waste our time doing things which, if we only stopped to think about them, are just the opposite of what we are made for?

We cannot be ourselves unless we know ourselves. But self-knowledge is impossible when thoughtless and automatic activity keeps our souls in confusion. In order to know ourselves it is not necessary to cease all activity in order to think about ourselves. That would be useless, and would probably do most of us a great deal of harm But we have to cut down our activity to the point where we can think calmly and reasonably about our actions.

We cannot begin to know ourselves until we can begin to see the real reasons why we do the things we do the things we do, and we cannot be ourselves until our actions correspond to our intentions, and our intentions are appropriate to our situation. But that is enough. It is not necessary that we succeed in everything. A man can be perfect and still reap no fruit from his work and it may happen that a man who is able to accomplish very little is much more of a person than another who seems to accomplish very much.

Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle Halpin
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 02:05:36

    I like this post, and the Merton quote, very much. Thanks for sending a link to your blog on the Catholic Homeschooling Asperger’s Group!

    Are you living with chronic illness, too? I noticed some references to Fibromyalgia and Lupus on your sidebar blogs…I’m dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, myself, so I know how difficult things can be with chronic illness. I will pray for rest and healing for you!



  2. readytobewriting
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 15:23:01


    Thanks for taking the time to comment! Being a brand new blogger it’s gratifying to know that others can perhaps benefit from the thoughts, quotes, and anything else that might crop up here.

    Yes, I’ve had chronic back pain and fibromyalgia for a long time then earlier this year began treatment for bipolar 2 depression. The latter was initially seen as unipolar depression with anxiety, something Thomas Merton also experienced (no wonder he makes more sense to me now). Despite some ups and downs in adjusting to living with this condition on top of the others I’ve found that knowing about and addressing the BP issues helps me better manage my pain and fibro symptoms. Most recently I learned I have hypothyroidism and have begun treatment for it and already have a little more energy, thanks be to God!

    Your own Chronic Fatigue Syndrome–bless your heart!–reminds me of the fact that I need to add a category for links other than blogs as the best fibro help I’ve received over the past few years has come from the awesome folks at the CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help website:

    Your prayers are most appreciated and you are now in mine in an additional way beyond our recent online group connection!:-)



  3. Mom
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 17:09:05

    Thank you for this quote from Thomas Merton — particularly the last paragraph. He says, “it is not necessary that we succeed in everything,” though we do try, don’t we? And I’m learning (during these less busy days) that the only success that really counts is that which is for God. So I’m trying to invest my energy in being the best I can be for Pewter (though some days I’m an utter failure!).

    Love you much. Mom



    • readytobewriting
      Sep 15, 2011 @ 21:42:16

      Beautifully said. And while we all have those “utter failure” days maybe what seems to us to be a complete failure isn’t necessarily that from God’s perspective. Thanks for taking the time to comment; know that you and Pewter are always in my prayers!



  4. Michelle Halpin
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 21:21:56

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with those illnesses, but you have my sympathy and prayers. It’s hard enough trying to homeschool our special needs children, but throw in a chronic illness, and it can be a heavy burden to bear. I’ve only been really ill the past two years, but those years have been some of the hardest of my life. I’m feeling better now, thanks to a very skillful acupuncturist/doctor of Chinese medicine and a Gluten Free diet. Those seem to be the most helpful things for me right now. I’m stable and functional, but I still have to guard my energy very carefully. I stay home most of the time! 🙂

    I really appreciate the link to the website..I liked reading the personal stories there. Thanks for linking to that! God bless you.



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