My friend Kurt suggested the Thomas Merton book No Man Is an Island when I asked about books on hope. At first I resisted because it didn’t strike me as being focused on the Journey of Hope theme. I read the book years ago and it just didn’t seem like a good fit. But Kurt knows his stuff and is better read than I am, so it made the list.
It was great to read it again. The book is filled with themes of hope. Even in the prologue it begins with, “No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man’s despair may become, as long as he continues to be a man his very humanity continues to tell him that life has a meaning.”
Each of the sixteen essays, on such topics as Sincerity, Mercy, and Vocation, have a hopeful quality about the human spiritual life. There is an assurance here that comes from the faith of the author, which of course stems from the God of his faith.
As with past reviews, I’m going to let the author speak for himself by posting a few quotes:
“What do I mean by loving ourselves properly? I mean, first of all, desiring to live, accepting life as a very great gift and a great good, not because of what it gives us, but because of what it enables us to give to others.”
“We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope.”
“Hope deprives us of everything that is not God, in order that all things may serve their true purpose as means to bring us to God.”
“It would be a sin to place any limit upon our hope in God.”
“Hope is the living heart of asceticism.”
This is a powerful, classic work by a deeply thoughtful man of God. There are many topics beyond hope, of course. But at the core of the book is a longing for God, a longing that is powered by the hope Merton has in God. You finish the book feeling challenged, enriched, and eager.
To read more books in my Journey of Hope theme, check these out: