Merton’s public and private personas always puzzled his friends and readership followers, and even Merton himself. His desire to write kept him from settling into the solitude that he so longed for; being a kind man, he always offered hospitality when friends or strangers stopped by his hermitage at Gethsemini Abbey in Kentucky.
It was at this very hermitage, where Griffin did his work, that he experienced some of the ‘potentiality for intrusions’ that Merton must have felt. “Charity demands the yeses that nevertheless end up altering and distorting solitude,” Griffin writes.
Oh my, can I resonate with that! ‘Potentiality for intrusions’, what a marvelous phrase, spot on! It clarifies why getting off to the cottage for several days at a time is so important to my solitude. At home, even when I schedule solitude time, the potential for intrusions always hovers about; intrusion, not in the negative sense, but as an interruption to solitude. But here at the cottage I am 99% free of that possibility. I keep my phone on in case of emergencies although people rarely call me on it, and no one comes to the door. My time, my solitude is entirely my own today.