Lonnie Ali, widow of his greatness Muhammed Ali, had a nice piece in The New York Times Tuesday about two men whose lives converged in Louisville, Ky.–the lives of her husband and Thomas Merton.
More specifically, she notes that it’s “the convergence of their message of faith that bears noting as we mark what would have been Muhammad’s 75th birthday on Jan. 17.” (See here to read the article in whole.)
Longtimers here at the Cult of the Jitterbug know that Thomas Merton has always been one of my faith heroes. And Ali, of course, one of my sports and cultural heroes.
So the article naturally got my attention.
Writes Lonnie Ali:
Like Merton, whom he never met, Muhammad was naturally drawn to the power in all faiths and at his direction his memorial service included an imam and an Islamic scholar, two Baptist ministers, two Jewish rabbis, a Roman Catholic priest, a Native American tribal chief and faith leader, and a Buddhist monk. Muhammad famously said, “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths.”
The point of her article is laid out in these words:
As America stands divided once again in the aftermath of a polarizing election, we would do well to follow the example of Thomas Merton and Muhammad Ali in their approach to diversity, pluralism and faith. Regardless of our differences, we share a common humanity, something that will always bind us to each other. We must find ways to reconnect to each other by developing empathy and by giving back. In truth, America has always faced division in varying degrees. The test for America has always been how she manages her division, how she finds and clings to a common purpose, and how she spins the tapestry of her diversity.
Indeed, these times we live in aren’t as unique in terms of division as we might think.
Lord be with us as we seek to manage the division and help us to “spin the tapestry of our diversity” in the spirit of those deeply spiritual peacemakers Merton and Ali.