The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

ITMS 2025

19th General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society

June 19-22, 2025

Regis University, Denver, Colorado

“The Calligraphy of Snow and Rock and Sky”

Thomas Merton and the Spirit of Place

“A sign of snow on a mountainside as if my own ancestors were hailing me.”

~ Thomas Merton, Woods, Shore, Desert

Flying over the Rocky Mountains on his way to California, May 6th, 1968, Thomas Merton described the view as “one of the most lovely calligraphies I have ever seen.” To “be a mountain diviner” is to acknowledge that “we are all secrets,” writes Merton, and yet, opening our whole selves to the deep memory and revelatory spirit of place, we can divine a message of truth, and perhaps a way forward, in the calligraphy of snow and rock and sky. In his journeys in California, New Mexico, and Alaska, and in Asia, gazing on Kanchenjunga, Merton found himself increasingly “on the edge of great realization.” What is the essence of that realization, and what messages might be divined in the spiritual landscapes of Merton’s final year of life? Who are the “ancestors” – human, animal, mineral, cosmic – whose stories provide a word of hope in this moment of reckoning for the human community and the suffering planet? Such questions are especially fitting as we gather at Regis University at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

Program Committee:

Christopher Pramuk, Denver, CO (Chair and Site Coordinator)

Ben Burkemper, Troy, MO

Elizabeth Burkemper, Troy, MO

Roger Butts, Colorado Springs, CO

Emma McDonald Kennedy, New Canaan, CT (ex officio)

Paul M. Pearson, Louisville, KY

Paul Pynkoski, Toronto, ON

Kathleen Witkowska Tarr, Anchorage, AK

Judith Valente, Normal, IL (ex officio)