Monastics, Hippies, and Poets…

“Light Your Lamp” (photo by m.a.h. hinton)

This time of year we notice the days growing shorter already in the North Country. Since I am up everyday between 5:00 and 5:30, the later and later sunrises become more noticeable every morning. How quickly summer passes.

I have never been a person who enjoys home improvement projects or yard work. As the years go by I like them less and less. I would rather spend what free time I do have, when not at work, reading and writing.

I came across this quote from Thomas Merton yesterday:

“Monastics and hippies and poets . . . we’re deliberately irrelevant.” ~Thomas Merton

I immediately liked it so much, that I made it my Twitter profile.

My mother used to tell me that our family moved from Santa Cruz, California, north in 1966 because she did not want her sons to become beach bums (my father explains it differently). When she said “beach bums,” I always assumed she meant hippies.

My standard line has always been, if that is what she wanted she moved too late for my brother Paul and I.

Thinking now about Merton’s quote, I see that I am a mixture of all three. Does that make me then three times as irrelevant?

Yeats once said a similar thing in a quote that I now cannot find. He said basically this (much better, of course): everything that is most valuable is counted by the “markets” as worthless. A very Franciscan remark.

We live in a world where everything is a commodity. Our time, our work, our very lives themselves are measured and given value based on a system that reduces everything in one way or another to money. We esteem those who have much wealth as successful and try to emulate them. Entrepreneurs, those who we are viewed as taking big risks for financial gain, are our heroes.

But why?

What could be further from what we really are than mere money?

That is why monastics and hippies and poets are irrelevant. We have seen the truth… and the truth has set us free.

Comments are closed.