Merton and the Good Samaritan

A couple of years ago, Frank and I drove down to Louisville, KY. We went on a lovely Fall weekend and  spent a great deal of time walking in an historic neighborhood and downtown, enjoying the amazing old houses and beautiful trees.

One of our goals was to see the historic marker at the corner where Thomas Merton stood and described his revelation, the understanding of himself as a “guilty bystander.”   I Can’t say I felt a call to fall on my knees, but I was in awe.  That part of the city is the theater district and there were people everywhere. For many of them a historic marker is of little interest anyway and for others, who walk past it every day, it may just be another part of the background noise.


Guilty Bystander

The marker , however, reminded me of my classes at seminary and the many, many discussions of the golden rule.  Even more, it reminded me of the good Samaritan.

So many of us walk past the man who was set upon by thieves and feel okay with the fact that we weren’t the ones who attacked him.  By walking on past him though, aren’t we adding to his suffering and part of what is wrong here?   I will have to give it some more thought.


2 thoughts on “Merton and the Good Samaritan

  1. I am intrigued by the idea of a historical marker for such an event — no “first settler”, no battle, no heroics, just a simple revelation to a thoughtful person. I’ve not been to Louisville except to drive through. Perhaps I need to visit it some time.

  2. Frank and I enjoyed our trip to Louisville. The monastery where Merton spent a good part of his life is nearby and, I think, a bit of a tourist draw, though I am not sure how welcome spiritual tourists are compared to the horsey set!

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