I still have difficulty with the term "God" and all the "He" and "Hims," but if I substitute the masculine pronouns for more neutral ones that stand in for a universal, loving force or power, then the concepts resonate powerfully. It's like the Vipassana teacher Goenka said: sometimes you want the message served in your own dish, but it's still the same rice pudding. I know not everyone agrees. I'd like to read more Merton to see how he felt about the matter.
There's so much to be said for solitude. I used to berate myself for wanting to be by myself -- wondering if there was something wrong with me when I wanted quiet. Quiet, though, seems essential for a healthy, happy, authentic soul.
I also love the way Merton writes about "selflessness." How can we give up attachment to some version of our "identity" and become part of a universal flow? How does this make us even more clearly and truly ourselves? Because really, Merton reminds us gently, there isn't so much danger of becoming anyone else... we're ourselves even if we're trying hard to be something we're not, it's just a less nice, less peaceful, less realized version.
"Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for joy. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live."