In writing on solitaries, Thomas Merton has said, “...it is very difficult to become a saint by doing what you want.” Of course that does depend on what one wants, but I think we’re talking here about the will of God and a person’s will. This has a great deal to do with self. Merton’s contention becomes quite obvious if all the things I want to do are about me, for me, or controlled by me. I, so to speak, become my god. This is hardly the disposition of a saint. When my will to do what I want clashes with discerning and doing God’s will, I intentionally distance myself.
I think Merton came to this meditation because of all the extraneous elements that attached themselves to his life because of his writings, his fame, and his very human sympathies and weaknesses. If what he wanted (and what I want) is the same as that which You want, then the gap is closed. We do well to think of what You would do especially in the little things of each day’s routine. And it is in just that context, I think, that the solitary fits.
Part of a prayer that Merton composed says, “...the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You actually does please You....”Wanting to do what I think You would want me to do, especially in the little things, is what I want to do.