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Unremembered Joy and Peace — A Reflection with Howard Thurman and Thomas Merton

July 21, 2021
Statue of St Francis of Assisi outside of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, NM

Denise and I are so excited to begin a six week course with Boston University, “Reflecting with Howard Thurman.” I was first introduced to him my last year of seminary and he has been a mentor and guide for me since then.

While Howard Thurman and Thomas Merton never met, they share a certain bond and kinship through the mystical encounter with God, Creation, and Humankind. In William Apel’s paper, “Mystic as Prophet: the Deep Freedom of Thomas Merton and Howard Thurman (Mystic as Prophet), Apel shared these two quotes from Merton and Thurman.

The contemplative life is not, and cannot be, a mere withdrawal, a pure negation, or a turning of one’s back on the world, with its sufferings, its cries, its confusions and its errors. (Merton, Seeds of Destruction, p. xiii)

…all my life I have been seeking to validate, beyond all ambivalence and frustration, the integrity of the inner life. I have sensed the urgency to find a way to act and react responsibly out of my own center. (Thurman, “Mysticism and the Experience of Love”, pp. 4-5)

With the noise of social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and 24-hour opinion channels it is difficult to find a place to be still and listen. Yet these places can be found and must be sought out for one’s spiritual, mental, and emotional health. This reminder from Thurman, invites us to join in the mystical encounter with him and with Merton. May it be an encouragement to you dear reader, as it is to me.

Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.”
― Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart

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