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This retreat is part of The Abbey of the Arts’ 10 month series The Mystical Heart: Love as a Creative Force. Register for each retreat individually or for the full series with an additional facilitated forum for sharing between retreats.

“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character: Love is my name.” –Thomas Merton

Love, as Thomas Merton learned, truly is a many splendored thing. He loved God and trusted in the love of God, but he realized love’s true nature only when he fell in love himself. It changed the contemplative monk to the core and made him view God’s grace and his relation to it in new ways that he felt impelled to share in his writing.

The Merton who lived as a contemplative monk studying, writing, and praying was also a man who could be impatient, rambunctious, charming, deceptive, in pain and, yes, in love. In other words, he was completely human and in the vulnerability of that messy humanity he most felt the grace of God. Merton came to understand that when we can express ourselves as beloved children of God, we acquire a wholeness that allows us to bring the best of who we are into the world. How do we make this connection and sense God’s love for us? How do earthly and spiritual love fit together?

Join us on December 10th, Merton’s feast day. We will consider these questions through close readings, journaling from writing prompts, and exploring images of ourselves in which we look and feel beloved. Recognizing that so many of the issues of Merton’s time surrounding love are, sometimes frustratingly so, still our issues today, we will also discuss how Merton’s work helps us to see through a lens of grace, allowing us to access love for ourselves, for others, and even for the impossible world.

The retreat will be recorded for those who register and made available within 48-72 hours of the program. We will send a notification when it is ready for viewing.