Friday, May 27, 2016

New Revelation: Fourth and Walnut

On the opinion page of the Catholic Times, a religious priest writes after the manner of Thomas Merton on his own revelation gained in his mature years.

During one of his recent trips to the market and hearing the traditional Korean music blasting away on the old speakers, he was not hearing it as a saucy young man but with strong feelings that brought tears to his eyes.

"You don't know me/ How would I ever know you?" These were the beginning words to the song. His feelings on hearing the song were not positive: "Even if you knew me how much would you know? I don't know you either." And to his surprise he finds himself singing the words without reason, often to himself.

However, going back a year before, while riding a bus, he heard this song after many years, and it brought to mind the reason it made such an impression in the market. The word 'You', and 'I' are very similar in sound, and he is from a province where they don't ordinarily distinguish between these two vowels. Consequently, what he heard was: I don't know myself how am I to know you?"

We are on a journey to God and in prayer, I am discovering God and myself in the process. We are made in the image of God who is the foundation of who I am. "After all, you have died! your life is hidden now with Christ in God" (Colossians:3:3).

We can all say we don't know who we are. We have the image of God in us and are consequently, related. This reminds him of the insight Thomas Merton had at the corner of Fourth and Walnut  in Louisville.

"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 these 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.... 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...." (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Thomas Merton) 

Individuals and groups when separated into different  camps, says the columnist, either assimilate or continue division. I don't know myself how would I know you? Knowing the meaning of these words would allow us to bow before all those we meet.

(Tathata) is Sanskrit for a title of Buddha: ''the ultimate inexpressible nature of all things" and the name of the song.

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