In Louisville, Kentucky, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, a tall tourist information plaque… exactly the kind you see in cities and by roadsides describing famous battles and birthplaces… marks the spot where the monk and author Thomas Merton was swept up into a fresh experience of God’s own life embodied in every human being. It is headed A REVELATION.
Merton describes the moment in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. He had come to Louisville on an errand for the Abbey of Gesthemani, his home for many years. Whether or not you have recently been on retreat, you might enjoy reading about his experience and the huge delight he then felt in being one member of humanity “in which God Himself became incarnate… 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.”
He credits the discipline of solitude for his ability to be deeply conscious of this connection, and its profound meaning for him “ …it is in fact the function of solitude to make one realize such things with a clarity that would be impossible to anyone completely immersed in the other cares, the other illusions, and all the automatisms of a tightly collective existence.”
“I have no program for this seeing,” he concludes. “It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”