God knows us from within ourselves, not as objects, not as strangers, not as intimates, but as our own selves. His knowledge of us is the pure light of which our own self-knowledge is only a dim reflection. He knows us in Himself, not merely as images of something outside Him, but as “selves” in which His own self is expressed. He finds Himself more perfectly in us than we find ourselves.
He alone holds the secret of a charity by which we can love others not only as we love ourselves, but as He loves them. The beginning of this love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them. Can this be charity?
— Thomas Merton in No Man Is an Island, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003), p. 168. Originally published (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1955).
"God knows us from within ourselves"