A friend reminded me of this quote and I had to go fishing so that I could share it with you. It reminds me also of the Transfiguration reading from earlier this week. Could it have been like this?
On March 18, 1958, on the corner of Fourth and Walnut, now Fourth and Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas Merton had a vision of oneness with all people. He called this vision an “epiphany.”
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 is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race … there is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Paradoxically, Merton experienced this transformation when he was out of his everyday monastic life and was immersed in the hustle and bustle of our shopping district – now Fourth Street Live. Merton said of his experience:
I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all of the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…
(Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, New York: Doubleday, 1996)
A plaque has since been installed to commemorate Merton’s epiphanies.
Where would the plaques to your epiphanies be installed?
Don’t mind my irreverence but I always think of this too when I hear about heart expansion:
Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.
And back to the sublime. I just love this poem by Teresa of Avila
WHEN THE HOLY THAWS
A woman’s body, like the earth, has seasons;
when the mountain stream flows,
when the holy
when I am most fragile and in need,
it was then, it seemed,
God, like a medic on a field, is tending our souls.
Our horns get locked with desires, but don’t hold yourself
too accountable; for all desires are
really innocent. That is what
the compassion in His
eyes tell me.
Why this great war between the countries — the countries —
inside of us?
What are all these insane borders we protect?
What are all these different names for the same church of love
we kneel in together? For it is true, together we live; and only
at that shrine where all are welcome will God sing
loud enough to be heard.
Our horns got locked with the earth and sky in some odd
marriage ritual; so what, don’t worry. We should be proud of
ourselves for everything we helped create in this
And God is always there, if you feel wounded. He kneels
over this earth like
a divine medic,
and His love thaws
the holy in us.
~ St. Teresa of Avila ~