get in touch

Archive | Newsletter

Spirit Journal – November 2018

Preview

In this issue of Spirit Journal, we have many ideas and announcements to share with you. We begin the November edition with Phil Jackson’s reflections on an important question: Who will replace Thomas Keating?  Next, Alan Krema writes about the Welcoming Prayer Practice, which will be the focus of our 2019 Winter Weekend Retreat, as well as one of the four sessions in the 2019 Living Wisdom Program.  The issue also includes official announcements about the Winter Retreat and Living Wisdom, with links to find out more and register for the programs.

Next, Jack Lloyd takes a brief look back at the Annual Fall Workshop that took place early this month (and invites you to do the same). We provide you with information about several additional contemplative activities that are coming up soon and may be of interest, along with Insights from Margaret Mead, Rosa Parks, Etty Hillesum, and Thomas Keating.

Finally, this issue includes the last chapter in Phil Jackson’s Spirit in the Wild series. If you haven’t been following this adventure yarn/reflection over the past seven months, please consider taking a look at it. (There’s a link for those who want to go back and start at the beginning.) We are very grateful to Phil for sharing this exciting and inspiring piece in Spirit Journal.

Please let us know what you think about Spirit Journal – and start your side of the conversation – by emailing the editor at the address provided at the end of the newsletter. We look forward to hearing from you!

Oh and by the way, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Who Will Replace Thomas Keating?

by Phil Jackson

Centering Prayer – I think it’s increasing, it’s burgeoning, and I think after my demise it’s likely to grow significantly, even more. I don’t know why, it’s just the nature of things.  The seed has to fall into the ground and die for its full energies to be released.  So whatever gifts I’ve received hopefully will be continued by divine providence, perhaps in ways that we don’t foresee.  – Thomas Keating

Who will replace Thomas Keating? I’m starting to hear that question more. This is not a new question, it has been asked hundreds of times over a decade or more before our beloved 95-year-old spiritual father passed. Thomas answered this himself though. He was asked, with varying degrees of tact, “Who will replace you?”, and he would reportedly answer “You! and you, and you, and you…” to those in attendance at the time.*

Thomas spoke to us often about the trap of idolatry, and that any leader, and human, has “feet of clay”. Although the only thing I wish I saw differently in Thomas would be the ability to live forever, his humanness does show its limits now with his passing. Isn’t that how it should be! For many years now, Thomas has been deliberately retreating from Contemplative Outreach leadership, experimenting with leadership structures until he found one that works and that would not rely on him.

The Welcoming Prayer Practice

by Alan Krema

This coming winter, Contemplative Outreach Chicago invites you to take part in either or both of two opportunities to engage with the Welcoming Prayer Practice.  Our Winter Retreat – February 22-24 — is a weekend exploration of the somatic spiritual nature of the Welcoming Prayer Practice, and on February 9, we will have a day-long workshop on the practice as part of the Living Wisdom Program.

The Welcoming Prayer Practice provides a framework and a skill that opens us to endless opportunities for inner awakening. Aligned with somatic knowledge from the field of therapy (Focusing, Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor, CRM-Community Resilience Model, Bio-feedback) we have a powerful set of practices, movements and “body knowing” for strengthening our nervous system and expanding our Being.

The Welcoming Prayer Practice teaches us about attachments and aversions, suggesting that maybe we don’t have as much “free will” as we think we do.  It helps us observe when we are knocked out of our comfort zone. . . . The learning of Somatic Skills begins with the understanding that the activations we experience (when “our buttons get pushed”) are hard wired instincts that are biological in nature.  Once we learn to notice and track our physiology, we can also make space for different responses.

Announcing: The 2019 Living Wisdom Program

This is a new series of four full-day workshops, each dedicated to a theme of wisdom in the Christian contemplative tradition.  The program’s vision is to deepen the contemplative wisdom in each participant.  Based on the core practice of Centering Prayer, the program will increase awareness of and openness to the divine indwelling through additional practices founded in the Wisdom tradition.

Wisdom teaching builds on a strong foundation of traditional Christian mystical teaching and contemplative practice, approaching them through the contemporary lenses of mindfulness, nondual awakening, and interspiritual dialogue.

The 2019 program consists of four Saturday workshops, all to be held at the Tau Center in Wheaton:

January 12:         Mystical Poetry, with Alison Hine

February 9:         Welcoming Prayer Practice as Embodied Wisdom, with Alan Krema

March 9:             The Wisdom of Sophia, with Rami Shapiro

April 13:               Cultivating a Listening Heart, with Jeff Ediger

 For detailed information and registration, please visit the Living Wisdom event page.

Announcing: The 2019 Winter Weekend Retreat

Contemplative Outreach Chicago’s Winter Weekend Retreat will take place February 22-24 at the beautiful Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfurt Illinois.  We hope you can join us!

Led by Alan Krema, the 2019 retreat will introduce and explore the Welcoming Prayer Practice (see above).  For further information and registration, please visit the Winter Retreat event page. 

 

Looking Back at Our Seventh Annual One-Day Fall Workshop, with Cynthia Bourgeault

by Jack Lloyd

(This note describes one person’s feelings about this year’s Fall Workshop.  It would be great to hear about your reactions, as well.  Please send them to news@centeringprayerchicago.org, and let us know whether we have permission to publish your thoughts in next month’s Spirit Journal.)

During the Fall Workshop on November 4, Cynthia Bourgeault gently awakened us to what she has called “the mystical wisdom lineage flowing like an underground river through the heart of the Christian mystical and contemplative heritage.”

While I’m sure each person who heard Cynthia’s message responded in their own unique way, I personally felt in awe of her ability to distill a lifetime of study and practice into a one-day workshop that was challenging, yet somehow easy to follow. She tied nearly every insight back to multiple ancient, medieval and modern sources. At times, I’ll admit, I found this meticulous approach a bit frustrating (“too academic!”). But, by the end of the day, I knew that she had provided plenty of evidence for her idea that there truly is a timeless, flowing “underground river” of wisdom and that, if we only consent and pay attention, we too can be borne along by its powerful current.

Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences

Here are some additional contemplative activities that are coming up and may be of interest:

Ongoing Centering Prayer “11th Step” Program – Chicago

In AA 12-step programs, the 11th step is making a personal effort to get in touch with a Higher Power, however one understands it.  Increasingly, people in 12-Step programs are deepening their

relationships with their Higher Power using the method of Centering Prayer.

Here in the Chicago area, an ongoing Centering Prayer-based 11th step group meets on Fridays at 6:45pm in conference room “C” on the 7th floor of the Community First Medical Center, 5645 W. Addison Street, Chicago. For further information on this program, please contact Philip Lo Dolce — stuffer1@ameritech.net.)

Merton Society Talk – November 18 – Chicago

The Chicago Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society has scheduled a talk for this month, Sunday afternoon at the Rectory Assembly of Immaculate Conception Parish, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago.

November 18: Pat O’Connell, founding member of the ITMS, former president and current board member will discuss “A Canterbury Tale: Thomas Merton and St. Anselm,” drawing on the newly published book, “Cistercian Fathers and Forefathers—Essays and Conferences by Thomas Merton,” edited by Pat. Also commenting will be Tom Masters, editorial director of New City Press, publisher of the book.

All Merton Society talks are open to the public; park in the church lot. Freewill donation at the door, suggested $5, (free to dues-paying members) and refreshments will be served. “MERTON LECTURE” signs with arrows point to the entrance of the Rectory Assembly. For more information, contact Mike at 773-685-4736.

Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop – February 2 – Winnetka

An introductory workshop is a great way to begin or solidify a regular practice of Centering Prayer.  This workshop will take place on Saturday February 2, 9:00am – 2:00pm, at Winnetka Congregational Church, 725 Pine Street, Winnetka.  The workshop presenter, Bob Frazee, is specially trained and commissioned in teaching this short course, which covers the essentials and conceptual background of the method.

For more information or to register, please contact the Rev. Jeffrey Phillips at 847-999-9403, jeffrey.phillips@wcc-joinus.org.

Spirit in the Wild Chapter 8 – Weather Beaten

by Phil Jackson

Last year, Phil Jackson (until 2016 the coordinator of Contemplative Outreach – Chicago) went on a two-week solo backpacking trip in the High Sierras of California.  It was a spiritual journey as well as a physical challenge, and it became a surprisingly intense experience.  Phil has now documented his journey in writing and we thank him for letting us share it in Spirit Journal.  If you want to start at the beginning, go to the March issue.  Here is the eighth and final Chapter:

What we choose to fight is so tiny! 
What fights with us is so great. 
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm, 

we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things, 
and the triumph itself makes us small. 
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us… 
 

I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament…

Whoever was beaten by this Angel 
(who often simply declined the fight) 
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand, 
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.  

Winning does not tempt such a man. 
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 
by constantly greater beings.

– The Man Watching (Excerpt) by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Robert Bly

You are going to die. (The last Truth of Male Initiation)

– Richard Rohr, “Adam’s Return, the Five Truths of Male Initiation

. . . and God said: what do you mean ‘why didn’t I save you from life’s troubles’ I’m the one who sent that helicopter you refused to climb aboard.

– Punch line of an old joke

————————-

It’s a testament to the coldness of that night; I can barely sleep now, even with the exhaustion passing through me after three days of struggling to make progress through deep snow and three nights of waking constantly to start fires.  I’m on a vast high plateau between two mountain lakes devoid of life, as surreal as if I’m simply a lone figure placed in a snow-globe, a diorama, by a much larger being.

I am encompassed by cold that does not leave: my feet are generally numb, though they get to the point of tingling at times. Arms are gauges of how frozen I am, when they shiver I have to boil water at night or walk faster in the day. My torso is never warm, even wading through snow as fast as I can there is not a drop of sweat, and at best I feel simply very cold. The below-zero cold continues to grip me in the nothingness of night, stars dotting the inky black sky. Lying under my quilt now, with less than an inch of pad between me and the snow, I can reach my hand out and feel the clear sensation that the snow is strangely very much warmer than the air.

Insights

Whatever man has invented, man can change. War can become as obsolete as dueling.

– Margaret Mead

I am leaving this legacy to all of you to bring peace, justice, equality, love, and fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision the people will perish, and without love and inspiration dreams will die —the dream of freedom and peace.

– Rosa Parks

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

– Etty Hillesum

Our basic core of goodness is our true Self. It’s center of gravity is God. The acceptance of our basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.

– Thomas Keating

Your Turn

You are always invited to write in to comment on or add to any of the items in Spirit Journal.  Let us know if you are aware of an upcoming event you think others should know about, or send us an inspirational quote you’d like to share, or information about a book, website, podcast, or video you recommend.  You can contribute by emailing the newsletter editor at news@centeringprayerchicago.org.

 

Spirit Journal – October 2018

Preview

Have you noticed that autumn has arrived?

We are now less than a month away from November 3 – the date for this year’s Annual Fall One-Day Workshop.  This event is always a great opportunity for Chicago-area contemplatives to meet face to face and get to know one another better, while learning and growing in ways that help each of us move along the spiritual path.  We hope you can join us this year for a unique opportunity to spend a full day with Cynthia Bourgeault, focused on her transformational wisdom teachings. (See below for further information and registration.)

In addition, this issue lets you know about opportunities to get involved and help Contemplative Outreach Chicago as an active volunteer, and it shares information about a number of interesting events and retreats that are coming up in the Chicago area and across the midwest.

This month’s Insights come from Thomas Keating, William Johnston, Richard Rohr, and Kahlil Gibran.  This issue also includes the seventh chapter of Phil Jackson’s Spirit in the Wild – an ongoing journal of Phil’s solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.  In this chapter, dangerous weather conditions are creating an increasingly precarious situation, as Phil struggles to make progress toward safety and home.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – September 2018

Preview

This issue points you toward opportunities to register for two upcoming contemplative events: a silent retreat in Wisconsin next month and our seventh annual Fall Workshop on November 3 in Lisle.  Cynthia Bourgeault provides an invitation and welcome to the conversation she plans to lead at the Fall Workshop.  (Now is the time to reserve your place – the workshop is less than two months away and 350 people have already signed up to attend.  Please register soon so you won’t be left out.)

We share information about a number of other upcoming events and retreats in the Chicago area and across the midwest. This month’s Insights come from Richard Rohr, Marco Semarini, Ram Dass and Rabbi Rami Shapiro.  This issue also includes the sixth chapter of Phil Jackson’s Spirit in the Wild – a ongoing journal of Phil’s solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.  In this chapter, things are getting more than a bit dramatic as unexpected snow and cold weather put Phil into a precarious situation.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – August 2018

Preview

This August issue reminds you that it’s time to register for this year’s Annual Fall Workshop, coming up on November 3, and provides a look at the themes Cynthia Bourgeault will be exploring that day. It’s not too early to register – the workshop is now less than three months away and more than 200 people have already signed up to attend.  Please register soon so you won’t be left out.

We also include a personal reflection from Al Krema on maintaining contemplative consciousness and balance amid the distractions and disturbances of the current era.  We share information about a number of other upcoming events and retreats in the Chicago area and further afield. This month’s Insights come from Marianne Williamson, Krista Tippett, Lama Tsultrim Allione, and Wayne Dyer.

This issue also offers the fifth chapter of Phil Jackson’s Spirit in the Wild – a ongoing journal of Phil’s solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – July 2018

Preview

In this issue, we announce the start of registration for this year’s Annual Fall Workshop, coming up on November 3, and provide a look at the themes Cynthia Bourgeault will be exploring that day.

We also provide information about a number of other upcoming events and retreats in the Chicago area and around the region, including two that are scheduled for mid-July: a “level two” Enneagram worshop in St. Charles and Advanced/Post-Intensive Retreats in Benet Lake, Wisconsin.  This month’s Insights come from Wendell Berry, Henry David Thoreau, Sharon Salzberg and the Rig Veda.

Alan Krema offers a reflection on the topic of Opening Race Into a Question of Belonging, based on an “On Being” podcast that discussed the ideas of John Powell.  This issue also includes the fourth chapter of Phil Jackson’s Spirit in the Wild – a ongoing reflection on Phil’s solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – May 2018

Preview

In this issue, Alan Krema provides a first look at the important themes Cynthia Bourgeault will be exploring during our seventh annual One-Day Fall Workshop in November.

We also provide information about a number of other upcoming events and retreats in the region and renew our “call for new volunteers” to help build on the Contemplative Outreach – Chicago mission, which is to support the teaching and practice of Centering Prayer.  This month’s Insights come from C.G. Jung, Lao Tzu, Martin Laird, and Thomas Keating.

This issue also includes Chapter 3 of Phil Jackson’s Spirit in the Wild – a ongoing personal reflection in which Phil describes his solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.  In addition, there’s a poem Pat Benson was inspired to write during a recent retreat day at Healing Gardens and a thank you note from Fr. Keating to those who recently reached out to thank him and wish him well.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – April 2018

Preview

This April issue continues Spirit in the Wild — a story that began in last month’s Spirit Journal in which Phil Jackson describes and reflects on his solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.  We also remind you to save the date this fall – November 3 – when you’ll have an opportunity to encounter the transformative wisdom teachings of Cynthia Bourgeault at our seventh annual One-Day Fall Workshop.

This issue also includes a “call for new volunteers” to help Contemplative Outreach – Chicago continue and expand its mission in support of the practice of Centering Prayer, along with information about a number of upcoming contemplative activities and events, locally and regionally.  This month’s Insights come from Chief Seattle, Rachel Carson, John Muir, and Pema Chödrön.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – March 2018

Preview

This issue provides updates about the ongoing 2018 Living Wisdom Program and the rescheduled “Winter” Weekend Retreat and releases the initial chapter of a story we think you may find interesting and inspiring: an in-depth personal reflection written by Phil Jackson about his solo wilderness journey in the High Sierras last year.

Importantly, this issue also includes a “call for new volunteers” to help Contemplative Outreach Chicago continue and expand its mission in support of the practice of Centering Prayer, along with information about several upcoming contemplative activities and events, locally and regionally.  This month’s Insights come from Mahatma Ghandi, Albert Camus, Thomas Keating, and Richard Rohr.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – February 2018

Preview

This issue provides new information about the ongoing 2018 Living Wisdom Program and our rescheduled “Winter” Weekend Retreat.

We also inform you about several other upcoming contemplative activities and events, locally and regionally.  February Insights come from Ram Dass, Martin Luther King Jr., Victoria Rosales, and Howard Thurman.

Continue Reading →

Spirit Journal – January 2018

Preview

This first 2018 issue of Spirit Journal features new information and reflections on our two upcoming events: the Winter Weekend Retreat and the Living Wisdom Program.

We also inform you about several other interesting contemplative activities and events, locally and regionally, and include a reflection on the midwinter gifts of nature and Centering Prayer, written by our friend Deb Marqui of Healing Gardens.  January Insights focus on miracles; they come from Wayne Dyer, Paulo Coelho, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Albert Einstein.

Continue Reading →

Web design by cpe design