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Miller's Common Ground Legacy Continues to Inspire

A year and a half after Ron Miller’s death, his spirit keeps touching his students and colleagues. They came together at Bobby’s Deerfield Nov. 2.

Ron Miller founded Common Ground in Deerfield nearly 40 years ago and 18 months after his death he continues to touch people in and around Deerfield.

Ten days ago his legacy brought a .

Common Ground is a center for “inquiry, study and dialogue,” according to its website, started by Miller and Jim Kenney in Deerfield in 1975 to study comparative religion. It has expanded to give offerings to deal with how spiritual, cultural and philosophical ideas impact human experience.

One of the people Miller touched is Rosemary Hurwitz of Deerfield. She felt his spirit Nov. 1 when she learned she would be a published author and the next day when she was dining at Bobby’s Deerfield with friends.

Hurwitz met Miller 20 years ago. At the time she was a member of the business community and decided to take a class from him. Later, he encouraged her to go back to school full time, she turned into a teacher herself at Common Ground and other places and became a colleague of Miller as well as a student.

“He Allowed me to Grow”

“He was a mentor in all respects. He allowed me to grow,” Hurwitz said. After years as a student she decided to get a master’s degree and she sought Miller’s advice. “He told me ‘there’s a need for good adult spiritual education teachers,’” she added about Miller’ influence.

After she got her master’s degree from Loyola University, Miller mentored her new career as well as encouraging her to write. “He brought me into Lake Forest College,” she said. “Everywhere he sent me I got work.”

Miller was a long time member of the Lake Forest College faculty.

Miller died May 4, 2011, according to a Chicago Tribune obituary. Hurwitz was one of six people to deliver eulogies at his funeral. She became more intense about her writing in his memory. She wrote an essay, “The Call.”

That was about the same time another Miller devotee, Christophe Bakunas, decided to make a wine in Miller’s memory. He would call it Angel’s Wings. He has been a maker of wine and spirits for 10 years through his company, Local Wine and Spirits.

“Sometimes we meet an angel,” Bakunas wrote on the label of the wine. “Sometimes that angel I a friend, or mentor or teacher,” he added referring to Miller.

Some of Wine’s Profits Go to Common Ground

“Ron (Miller) was important in my spiritual life as well as being a paternal figure,” Bakunas said. His father and Miller were classmates. “He was always there for me. This was a way to give homage.” A portion of the profits from the sale of the wine go to Common Ground.

Hurwitz and Bakunas became friends because of their association with Miller. She had been looking for the wine and looked forward to sharing a glass with her vintner friend.

All those forces converged for Hurwitz Nov. 1 when she learned her essay, "The Call," would be a chapter in the forthcoming book, “No Mistakes; How You Can Change Adversity into Abundance,” to be published next year. The next day she went to a movie with friends and had dinner at Bobby’s Deerfield. She took a chance.

 “By the way, do you have a wine named Angel’s Wings,” she asked the sommelier. “‘Not only do I have it but Christophe Bakunas helped me design this whole bar,”’ the man told her. She and her friends ordered a bottle. “Ron celebrated with me too,” she said.

Miller’s genius, according to the Tribune article, was using the differences in peoples’ religions to build bridges for them. “What a noble cause, to unite humanity through our differences,” Bakunas wrote on the label of Angel's Wings.

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