In winter the stripped landscape of Nelson county looks terribly poor. The houses of our neighbors between here and Bardstown are pretty miserable. We [Trappists] are the ones who are supposed to be poor. Well, I am thinking of the people in a shanty next to the Brandeis plant, on Brook Street, Louisville. We had to wait there while Reverend Father was getting some tractor parts. The woman who lives in this place was standing out in front of it, shivering in some kind of rag, while a suspicious looking, anonymous truck unloaded some bootleg coal in her yard. I wondered if she had been warm yet this winter.
...The world is terrible, people are falling to pieces and starving to death and freezing and going to hell with despair, and here I sit with a silver spoon in my mouth and write books and everybody sends me fan mail telling me how wonderful I am for giving up so much.
And what, I'd like to ask them, have I given up anyway except headaches and responsibilities?
Thomas Merton. Entering the Silence, Journals Volume 1.
Jonathan Montaldo, editor (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997): 264 -
via the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living