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Spirit Journal – June 2016


This issue features an important announcement: the topics for our fifth annual One-Day Fall Workshop!  It also offers a new “prayer for the world” by Sam Ogle, and brings you news about several in-person and online workshops and retreats coming up this summer: local, regional, and somewhat distant (Albuquerque?).  Our Insights this month come from Jack Kornfield, Shunryu Suzuki, Ram Dass, and Cynthia Bourgeault.

We invite you to help us make Spirit Journal an even better forum for Chicago-area contemplatives.  Use the e-mail address at the end to send your ideas, contributions and feedback.

Here’s the Line-Up for Our Fifth Annual Fall One-Day Workshop


 A highlight of each year’s activity for Contemplative Outreach – Chicago is our Annual One-Day Workshop, held in the fall.  This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 15 at Benedictine University in Lisle.  The Fall Workshop offers a unique opportunity for Chicago-area contemplatives to gather, practice together, and interact informally while participating in a variety of fascinating workshop sessions on Centering Prayer and related topics.

The 2016 program has just been finalized and will include:

Introduction to Centering Prayer: An opportunity to learn the method of Centering Prayer or, for those already practicing, an opportunity to deepen the practice.

The Wisdom Way of Knowing: A “Wisdom” perspective can provide a framework for deepening the contemplative journey.  This interactive presentation will provide a beginning Wisdom framework for contemplatives, drawing on the lineage of Cynthia Bourgeault.

The Power of Formative Thought: We become acutely aware of our thought processes when they distract us in our meditation practice, but how aware are we of our thoughts at the ordinary level of consciousness on a daily basis?  This session will explore how personal and collective thought processes impact our interior and exterior life, as we gather to “think” about the power of our thoughts.

The Transformative Power of Dreams: Dreams are a unique and powerful resource for the spiritual/life journey.  During this workshop we will experience some practical ways of working with our dreams in order to discover the messages contained within the dream symbols.  Come with your dreams to explore!

Fall Workshop attendees may choose to participate in the Introduction to Centering Prayer (an all-day program) or any two of the other sessions.  Lunch will be provided.  More complete information about the Workshop and the session-leaders, along with how to register, will be available on our website at the end of this month – watch for it!

A Prayer for the World

by Sam Ogles

(We want to share with you this heartfelt prayer created recently by Sam Ogles, a member of the “Circle of Service,” Contemplative Outreach – Chicago’s volunteer servant-leadership team.)

We pray for the many names that a broken world has in our time: for the migrant crisis to be met with wisdom and compassion, for our political elections to have a respectful discourse worthy of our high ideals, for racial justice to be a vocation to more than minority communities, for economic markets that determine the livelihoods of so many, for systems of terror and violence to give way to the power of peace, and for our role as Good Samaritans to those in our homes, churches, workplaces, and communities.

We pray humbly for our collective enemies who are your beloved creations. We beseech you, Lord that you would give us eyes to see the Imago Dei, the image of God, in those who oppose us, those who persecute us, those who vote differently from us, those who stand against the justice we seek, those who practice a different religion, those who shun reconciliation, and those who speak a different language and hail from a different land.

We pray for our personal enemies who make living a life of love so difficult, yet who provide the opportunity for radical love to which you have personally called us. We pray for wisdom, compassion, and healing for those individuals who heap on us unbearable burdens offering unspeakable gifts, grinding us like wheat.

We pray that we would know in our heart of hearts the extension of your infinite love. Please help us to be your hands and feet in building a Kingdom of Peace. We ask that your divine power would reunite all that custom and ignorance have divided. May we live the truth that all people are sisters and brothers under the widespread wings of your grace.

There’s Still Time to Be Part of an Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop July 16 at Healing Gardens in St. Charles

HG Butterfly

If you have not already participated in an introductory workshop, we invite you to spend a day learning and practicing at the beautiful Healing Gardens in St. Charles.  This is a great opportunity to begin or solidify a regular practice of Centering Prayer. The presenters are specially trained and commissioned in teaching this short course, which covers the essentials and conceptual background of the method.  After the first six-hour workshop on Saturday July 16, the program will continue for five-six weeks with 90-minute gatherings to pray, view and discuss a video presentation by Fr. Thomas Keating, and work to support an emerging daily practice of Centering Prayer.

For more information, visit the Healing Gardens website.  The website also provides information about the popular “Silent Saturdays” programs, offered on June 25, July 30, and September 24, and other contemplative activities at the beautiful Healing Gardens.

Conspire 2016 in Albuquerque New Mexico (or Online) July 15-17

Next month, as part of the “Conspiracy for God Conference Series,” Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation offers a three-day weekend conference: Conspire 2016, with options to participate in person in Albuquerque or via the internet.  Joining Fr. Richard for the conference are Christena Cleveland, James Alison, Mirabai Starr, and David Haas.  They describe their theme as follows:

How do we face injustice and evil? We must begin with a foundational “yes” to who we are and what is. Once we experience the loving foundation of all reality, we are able to embrace our own shadow and the darkness in the world. Once we receive Love’s gaze for ourselves, letting it illumine the log in our own eye, we can then see others through the same compassionate lens. This inclusive gaze has the power to heal and transform all who come before it.

For more information on Conspire 2016, visit the Center for Action and Contemplation website 

Advanced/Post Intensive Retreats August 12-18 in Lake Bennet Wisconsin

Sponsored by Contemplative Outreach of Southeast Wisconsin, the Advanced/Post Intensive retreats will take place at St. Benedict’s Abbey and Retreat Center, about 90 minutes north of Chicago.  These retreats will immerse participants in the practice of Centering Prayer. Participants will come together for prayer, liturgy and meal times, and the retreat will provide an atmosphere of silence, solitude and community. (A prerequisite for attending an Advanced/Post Intensive Retreat is previous attendance at an Intensive Retreat.)  To find out more or to register, download this summer retreat flyer.


The willingness to empty ourselves and then seek our true nature is an expression of great and courageous love.

 – Jack Kornfield

After you have practiced for a while, you will realize that it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, the progress you make is always little by little. It is not like going out in a shower in which you know when you get wet. In a fog, you do not know you are getting wet, but as you keep walking you get wet little by little. If your mind has ideas of progress, you may say, “Oh, this pace is terrible!” But actually it is not. When you get wet in a fog it is very difficult to dry yourself. So there is no need to worry about progress.

 – Shunryu Suzuki

The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated.  It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path.  Listen to your own truth.

 – Ram Dass

Virtually all the great spiritual traditions of the world share the conviction that humanity is the victim of a tragic case of mistaken identity.  There is a “self,” and a Self.

 – Cynthia Bourgeault

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 other contemplatives 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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