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Thomas Merton and the Transformative Power of Love

with Sophfronia Scott

Saturday, December 10, 2022

9am-12 pm Pacific

12-3 pm Eastern

5-8 pm Ireland/UK time

Program Description

This retreat is part of our 10 month series The Mystical Heart: Love as a Creative Force.

“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.

Your Guide for the Journey


Sophfronia Scott

Sophfronia Scott is a novelist, essayist, and leading contemplative thinker whose work has appeared in numerous publications and received a 2020 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. Her book The Seeker and the Monk: Everyday Conversations with Thomas Merton received the 2021 Thomas Merton “Louie” Award from the International Thomas Merton Society. Sophfronia holds degrees from Harvard University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and is the founding director of Alma College’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, a low residency graduate program based in Alma, Michigan. Sophfronia’s next novel, Wild, Beautiful, and Free, will be published in February. Visit Sophfronia online.


Your registration constitutes an agreement with our online program Terms and Conditions below.

We offer a sliding scale of 3 fees for payment. The reduced fee for those who have lost their income and the sponsorship fee helps support our ability to offer scholarships. In an effort to keep this program accessible, please carefully consider both your own resources as well as honoring the expense, time, and energy required to run these programs and keep our work sustainable. Thank you!
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If you need a different payment plan or a greater scholarship to make this program accessible, please get in touch with us.

Terms and Conditions

Please consider your purchase carefully and review the many free materials we have on our website to make sure the program will be a good fit or get in touch with any questions.

We ask that you honor our work by not sharing the program materials with others who are not enrolled.

Please contact us for permission to quote in settings beyond the program

These videos are made available to registered participants and may also be included in future versions of the program including self-study. If you choose to speak during a recorded gathering, you are giving us your consent to record that contribution. If you prefer not to be seen or heard, you can of course switch off or mute your camera or microphone at any time. Chat sessions are recorded and posted as well. Participation in the chat function is also giving consent to their recording. Breakout groups are never recorded.

If you choose a payment plan and stop payment before fulfilling the commitment without contacting us to make other arrangements, your access to the program will be removed.