Monday, May 6, 2013

The month of April

     For those who know me, you might understand how profoundly I have been impacted over the years by a Trappist monk named Thomas Merton.  His journey of faith was very different from my experience but his graceful (but often bumpy) spiritual life contains far too many connecting points to think it is a coincidence.
     Merton died on December 10, 1968.  He is buried at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky where he spent the final 27 years of his life.  He was only 53 years old but his influence continues on in to eternity.
     The month of April was an adventure for me because I spent the four Fridays of April teaching a course on Merton at the Benet Hill Monastery in the Black Forest outside of Colorado Springs.
     The group was made up of believers, philosophers, historians, and seekers of all sizes and shapes.  Most had some limited knowledge of Merton while several were there just out of curiosity and the opportunity to learn something new.  In the end, they were teachers to me.
     They taught me more about myself than they learned about Merton.  I discovered a passion that has been welling up in my for years.  It is a passion to know God and to understand how the experiences of life match up with the grace of the Almighty to create a discipleship journey.
   For Merton, it was the early death of his parents, his wild college days, his discovery of faith, and his commitment to Christ that was lived out behind the cloistered walls of an ancient abbey.  For me, it was my marriage to Sue, the discovery of Jesus, my first trip to Romania, and my April 1993 Walk to Emmaus experience that provided the chain of grace and developed my life.  Those four elements were key but they were amplified by thirty years of service within the life of the United Methodist Church.  Combined, they have changed me and given be a glimpse of God.
     April was a really good month!  I hope it was good to you as well.  

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