This evening I took a little break from studying for comprehensive exams with a bit of creative prayer time. Today I’m working on my question on Thomas Merton’s ecological conscience, in dialogue with his substantial writing on peace and nonviolence. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time the past two days reading Merton’s words or reading about Merton, including his famous “epiphany moment” at the corner of Fourth and Walnut:
“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.”
While I’ve been working, I’ve also been listening to Vance Joy’s EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing. The music fits the moment, so it’s been on repeat. The end result is that I ended up taking an extended study break to create this video prayer reflection. Call it what happens when the corner of Susan and St. Joseph meets the corner of Fourth and Walnut.