Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Walking Around Shining Like The Sun

Today I got to live out one of my dreams.

I know that even the best of us are, well, like the rest of us -- each and every human being has the potentials for greatness, and each and every one of us has gifts that are only ours to share.  No person is worth of "worship."

And, yet, there are some people who have a profound effect on individuals . . . or on the world.  To me, Father Thomas Merton is one of those people.  And today I stood on the street corner in Louisville at which Fr. Merton famously had an epiphany.  This is how he described it in his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

I can honestly (yet I hope humbly) say that I've had this same revelation; I believe I know exactly what he was experiencing.  And that is one of the many things that makes Merton such a powerful teacher for me.  So the opportunity to stand where he stood?  One of the things I've long wanted to do.

After this, though, it got even better.  My friend James Ishmael Ford (whose on blog, Monkey Mind, is well worth following) drove me about an hour out of town to the Abbey of Gesethemi.  This is the monastery where Merton lived . . . and where he's buried. It was, as much as any place on earth, his home.

As a way of thanking this teacher -- not only of me but of millions -- I placed a set of my prayer beads at the base of his stone.  I got to live out one of my dreams . . .

In Gassho,


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1 comment:

Bob Brett said...

Absolutely awesome. Enlightenment, plain and simple. I just read James' post about Wayne Arnason's book, as I sit here in the Charlottesville area. Connections.