Insight and fresh vision inevitably depend on our ability to free ourselves from the prejudices and stereotypes that we have inherited, along with everyone else. Merton believed that silence and solitude could play a crucial role in this respect. For example, once, in the middle of the shopping district, he had what for want of better words we must call a mystical experience. There "at the corner of Fourth and Walnut" he was "suddenly overwhelmed with 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." In that ordinary, everyday, unremarkable setting he suddenly saw and felt God's love for each person, and the deep solidarity that exists between each member of the human race despite their illusions of separateness. It was a unity with each other that, if only they themselves could see it, would banish war, hatred, cruelty and greed. Reflecting on the experience afterwards, Merton linked it with his solitude and silence, feeling that these had made it possible for him to have this experience.

~ from THE SPARK IN THE SOUL by Terry Tastard
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