We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good. But this is only a secondary end. The one end that includes all others is the love of God. The truest solitude is not something outside you, not an absence of people or of sound around you; it is an abyss opening up in the centre of your own soul. And this abyss of interior solitude is a hunger that will never be satisfied with any created thing.
The only way to ﬁnd solitude is by hunger and thirst and sorrow and poverty and desire, and the one who has found solitude is empty, as if he had been emptied by death. He has advanced beyond all horizons. There are no directions left in which he can travel. This is a country whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. You do not find it by travelling but by standing still.
Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labour that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and beyond all desire, a fulfilment whose limits extend to inﬁnity.
— From New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton