This afternoon I suddenly saw the meaning of my American destiny -- one of those moments when many unrelated pieces of one's life and thought fall into place in a great unity towards which one has been growing.
My destiny is indeed to be an American -- not just an American of the United States. We are only on the fringe of the true America. I can never be satisfied with this only partial reality that is almost nothing at all, that is so little that it is like a few words written in chalk on a blackboard, easily rubbed out.
I have never so keenly felt the impermanence of what is now regarded as American because it is North American and the elements of stability and permanence which are in South America. Deeper roots, Indian roots. The Spanish, Portuguese, Negro roots also. The shallow English roots are not deep enough. The tree will fall.
To be an American of the Andes -- containing in myself also Kentucky and New York. But New York is not, and never will be, really America. America is much bigger and deeper and more complex than that -- America is still an undiscovered continent.
Thomas Merton. A Search for Solitude. Edited by Lawrence S. Cunningham (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 168.