Where's Your Fourth and Walnut?

Friday, June 03, 2011
One of the writers who has had a significant influence on me is Thomas Merton. Merton left a promising career as a writer and university lecturer to take vows as a monk - to literally disappear from a world that was soon to be his oyster.

The fruit of that decision was great books written from within the monastery walls and an incredible impact on people of all faiths.

The turning point in Merton's life, however, was not in the monastery, but rather in Louisville, Kentucky in 1958. Standing at the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets (today Fourth and Muhammad Ali Streets) he was overcome with a vision from God. This is how he described it:

"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".

This experience transformed Merton's life and shaped his career. In a real sense it defined his calling.

What happened in those moments in the middle of an unexceptional shopping district in a nondescript mid-sized city was that one man made his heart and mind available to his God. And God spoke.

I believe God is wanting to speak to us like that and that there are moments in our lives when he wants to speak words of destiny and calling. This communication from God isn't limited to monks or pastors - God longs to speak to teachers and carpenters and bankers and stay at home dads and insurance salespeople and unemployed folks.

But we have to be willing to listen, and to respond.

Do you have a Fourth and Walnut in your life? Can you remember? Do you need to re-freshen the sense of calling you heard then?

Are you waiting for your Fourth and Walnut moment?

Maybe it's as simple as praying "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening".

And then listening!

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