On this day in 1958, Thomas Merton had a spiritual epiphany at the corner of Fourth and Walnut in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. As he later wrote in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, “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 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 event is commemorated with a historical marker by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Thomas Merton Center Foundation. I have always found it remarkable that the Commonwealth has honored a spiritual event in this way. The sign is located in what is now known as Thomas Merton Square.

merton sign

Patrick Kerin