Thomas Merton

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Louisville in 1958, Merton says that he had an epiphany that he described as follows.

“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. ... Then it was as if I suddenly saw the SECRET BEAUTY OF THEIR HEART, 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 the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. ... I SUPPOSE THE BIG PROBLEM WOULD BE THAT WE WOULD FALL DOWN AND WORSHIP EACH OTHER.

“AT THE CENTER OF OUR BEING IS A POINT OF NOTHINGNESS THAT IS UNTOUCHED BY SIN and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposses our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is THE PURE GLORY OF GOD IN US. ... It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. IT IS IN EVERYBODY, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sin that would make all darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. .... THE GATE OF HEAVEN IS EVERYWHERE” (Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, pp. 140-142). (* Walnut was later renamed Muhammed Ali Blvd., and in 2008 the intersection was named Thomas Merton Square.)

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