We seek solitude with You and, at the same time, we seek to draw the whole world to You – seemingly another paradox. One question becomes, how does the hermit draw others to You? Very often the desirable practice of living in the present obscures our vision of long term results. I am sure that at some time every hermit, mystic, or cloistered religious ponders this point. We are familiar with the writings of Merton, Fox, Keating, Pennington and so on – all cloistered monks who have drawn others to You through their writings. But what of the thousands of such people we have never heard of? One answer is, without them what was accomplished by the more prominent spiritual writers might not have come about. There is a mesh here of which we are seldom aware.
There is no telling the influence of the solitary over others long after he’s gone. His/her prayers alone may have been the cause of wonderful effects not readily apparent to us. The will of God is that we all be one with Him. If, by His constant grace, we are able to do His will, our solitude, by some mystical means, contributes to the completion of that will and of the drawing of others toward that will. The fact that a mystic latches on to a way of life through which he is able to do Your will and unite him/herself – his/her very being – with You, is a fulfillment, to the degree possible in this life, of Your will for all of us.
Here I am, a person of the world, influenced almost daily by the writings of these men/women and drawn by the way of life of thousands more whom I never knew and who never knew me. I say to myself, just as they must have said to themselves: with such ammunition I must draw the world to You. But Saint Peter, in his letters, tells us that sometimes you give a person a vision but say to the person, “not yet.” It is more than possible that the last and the least are foremost in Your plan.