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Spirit Journal – August 2016


This issue provides more information about our upcoming, fifth annual Fall One-Day Workshop, including two articles by workshop session leaders, describing what their sessions will be about.  We also provide a link to a wonderful short video from Thomas Keating, and share Insights from Tara Brach, Thérèse of Lisieux, Kalu Rinpoche, and Carl Jung.

We’d like your input, please!  Give us your ideas to help improve Spirit Journal and turn it into an even more valuable forum for Chicago-area contemplatives.  Use the e-mail address at the end to send your ideas, contributions and feedback.

It’s Time to Register for Our Fifth Annual Fall One-Day Workshop – Here Are Previews of Two of the Workshop Sessions

Martin Heiss

Photo: Martin Heiss

Labor Day is on the horizon and – as Shakespeare pointed out – “summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”  So, today would certainly be a good time to choose the sessions you’d like to attend at our fifth annual Fall One-Day Workshop, which will take place Saturday October 15 at Benedictine University in Lisle.  Many people have already registered and, before long, one or more of the workshop sessions may reach capacity and have to be closed to late registrants (as happened last year).  So why wait any longer?  Register today!

One option at the Fall Workshop is to spend the entire day taking part in an in-depth Introductory Centering Prayer workshop.  This is a great choice for those who are new to Centering Prayer or would like an opportunity to deepen their practice.  Alternatively, four half-day workshop sessions are also available — you may choose to participate in one morning session and one afternoon session.

Below, two of the session-leaders offer personal perspectives on what their sessions will focus on.  Look for similar articles about the other two workshops in next month’s Spirit Journal.

The Transformative Power of Dreams

By Mary Ellen Ryley, SCMM (Sister of Charity of our Lady Mother of Mercy)

As Jeremy Taylor has pointed out, “When we keep track of our dreams we receive spiritual direction for life.  We access our own inner wisdom and our personal point of contact with God.”

This means that dreams are a unique and powerful resource for the spiritual/life journey.  They can provide us with insight as we seek to understand ourselves and others.  Dreams offer us guidance as we deal with everyday struggles and decisions.   Even dreams which seem confusing or frightening often contain within them a message which invites us to wholeness and healing.  During this workshop we will experience some practical ways of working with our dreams in order to discover the messages contained within our dream symbols.

I would ask that you consider inviting a dream before coming to the workshop.  Before sleeping, journal about a particular issue you would like some guidance on or simply ask for a dream.  Write down this dream or any other dream and bring it to the workshop!  I look forward to talking with you on October 15.

The Wisdom Way of Knowing

By The Rev. William Redfield

Often we may think of our Centering Prayer as our own meaningful expression of personal devotion and piety.  Besides giving us a means for reverence in this way, Centering Prayer gives us the space and opportunity to pause in our busy lives, to significant personal effect. Indeed, many of us have noticed that an ongoing commitment to the daily discipline of Centering Prayer has seemed to soften our temperament and to deepen our perspective on life.  And all this is very, very good.

But what is it that we are specifically offering to the universe through our prayer (and our developing active life in the world)?  What if, besides just an expression of our own personal devotion, we had a deepened sense of where we are in the evolution of things and the purpose that Centering Prayer might be having in this “threshold moment” in which we are living?  Might that not redouble our commitment to our Centering Prayer practice and deepen our understanding of how and why it is so critically important now?

We certainly seem to be at a tipping point in the unfolding of consciousness on our planet.  The esoteric tradition says that, over the course of human history, the underground stream of Wisdom has come to the surface to assist humanity when the world is undergoing monumental changes or unusual challenges.  Both seem to be true right now.

If there is some truth to these claims—I certainly believe that there is—then the Wisdom tradition has an essential contribution to make to our time.  But access to Wisdom is unlike other bodies of knowledge; it is state-dependent.  That is—rather than a body of information, theory, or doctrine—it is more a way of knowing.  So, it must be practiced in order to be apprehended and understood.

In our two hours together on October 15, we will have the opportunity to sample some of these Wisdom practices and better understand the methodology of Wisdom Schools.  And then, setting all of this into a larger perspective, we will explore how and why both Centering Prayer and Wisdom practices can assist our human growth in the direction of integral wholeness.  But more than just for us and for our own growth, it will be argued that this Wisdom work is for the benefit of greater humanity and perhaps the entire universe.

[Read more about all of the Fall Workshop sessions and see bios of the session-leaders.]

Thomas Keating Video: On the Value of Daily Contemplative PrayerFr. Thomas Keating

In this short video, Father Thomas Keating describes the spiritual and practical need for a daily meditation practice to provide balance and perspective amid the sometimes overwhelming reality of contemporary life.

This wonderful video was brought to our attention by Chris and Phileena Heuertz in the newsletter of Gravity, their “center for contemplative activism.”  If you aren’t already familiar with it, Gravity’s website is worth a visit.



You are traveling a path that has led to clarity, peace and deep realization for many people over thousands of years. May their awakening support and inspire you. And may the sincerity of your practice heal and free your spirit.

– Tara Brach

Jesus, draw me into the flames of your love.  Unite me so closely with you that you live and act in me.

– Thérèse of Lisieux

The pure nature of mind – emptiness, lucidity and intelligence without limit – has always been inside us.

 – Kalu Rinpoche

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.  Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakens.

 – Carl Jung

Your Turn

Please write in to comment on or add to any of the items in this month’s newsletter.  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 are invited to contribute by emailing the newsletter editor at

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