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In the World – A Reflection

June 30, 2021
The labyrinth at St Joseph’s on the Mountain Episcopal Church in Mentone, Alabama

This past week we had a wonderful opportunity to step away from the world of work and ministry. It was a time for rest, reading, contemplation, hiking, and photography. However, Monday came and it was back to the world of work, ministry, and the world. While I am obviously not a contemplative monk like Thomas Merton, I can definitely relate to what he said about his Epiphany on the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville.

Thomas Merton Square, the corner of Fourth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Blvd) in Louisville where Merton had his epiphany on March 18, 1958.

Merton the contemplative monk had his epiphany in the middle of a crowded intersection in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. He realized that despite his isolation as a monk in a monastery, that he was intimately connected with everyone on that street.

This is a portion of what he wrote first in his journal and later expanded in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. …though “out of the world” we are in the same world as everybody else, the world of the bomb, the world of race hatred, the world of technology, the world of mass media, big business, revolution, and all the rest. We take a different attitude to all these things, for we belong to God. Yet so does everybody else belong to God. We just happen to be conscious of it, and to make a profession out of this consciousness. But does that entitle us to consider ourselves different, or even “better,” than others? The whole idea is preposterous. (Thomas Merton: Essential Writings, p. 91)

This is a lesson that we need to re-learn today as a church, as individual people of faith, as a community, nation, and world. As Acts 14:28 and the liturgy of Confession reminds us, In him we live and move and have our being. We are all connected to each other and to God. To say otherwise would be, in Merton’s words, preposterous.

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