Ben and Liz Burkemper, father and daughter, are fascinated by the figure of Thomas Merton — a prolific writer, Trappist monk, poet, prophet, peace and civil rights activist, theologian, and mystic. Fresh from the latest general meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society at St. Bonaventure University, where Merton taught English in the early 1940s, Ben and Liz are set on fire and ready to share their reflections on this enlightened monk through the lens of the meeting’s theme of “Pilgrimage, Prayer, and Prophecy.”
“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. 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 sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And 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.”
A lawyer by trade, Ben is encouraged by Merton’s endless spiritual journey and quest for inter-religious dialogue. Liz studies peace and justice as an undergraduate in Washington, DC. She looks to Merton as a prophetic voice on her path towards contemplation-in-action, using thoughts in solitude to ground her as she seeks a world aware of its interconnectedness through social justice.
Sunday 16 July 2017
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Liz and Ben begin sharing at 6:45
At Sophie House
4547 Gibson Avenue
Forest Park Southeast 63110
Please park at the west end of Gibson or on Taylor Avenue, or on the 4400 block of Chouteau.