Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thomas Merton and the Eye of a photographer

In my last post I spoke of Thomas Merton's skill as a photographer and of his admonition to a friend, who was busily snapping photos of the woods in which they walked: "Stop looking and begin seeing."

He gave himself to others in the same way, approached them without expectation. He saw them. He did not try to interpret, alter, or improve them, but allowed them to be themselves. In Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander he wrote of an experience he had during one of his first excursions outside the monastery into Louisville, KY. I love the final lines.

“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. This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . 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.”
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