What is my new desert? The name of it is compassion. There is no wilderness so terrible, so beautiful, so arid and so fruitful as the wilderness of compassion. It is the only desert that shall truly flourish like the lily. It shall become a pool, it shall bud forth and blossom and rejoice with joy. It is in the desert of compassion that the thirsty land turns into the springs of water, that the poor possess all things. There are no bounds to contain the inhabitants of this solitude in which I live alone, as isolated as the Host on the altar, the food of all men, belonging to all and to none, for God is with me, and He sits in the ruins of my heart, preaching His Gospel to the poor.
Do you suppose I have a spiritual life? I have none, I am indigence, I am silence, I am poverty, I am solitude, for I have renounced spirituality to find God, and He it is who preaches loud in the depths of my indigence, saying: "I will pour out my spirit upon thy children and they shall spring up among the herbs as willows beside the running waters" (Is. 44:3-4).
(Thomas Merton: Entering the Silence, p. 463)