Friday, November 5, 2010

People Shining Like the Sun

I have been to Gethsemane in Kentucky a couple of times for retreat. This is the place where Thomas Merton lived and worked. I remember going to dinner with my covenant group in Louisville and seeing a plaque on the street where Merton had a well-known spiritual experience. I am thinking of it today as I consider how those around me, even those who most challenge me or rub me the wrong way, shine like the sun. What depth of wisdom he discovered! Here is what he wrote:

"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."

Thomas Merton