Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!
This final 2019 issue of Spirit Journal begins with Alan Krema’s reflection on Enter the Chaos, a special Winter Retreat we will be offering in February in association with the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue.
Another important article announces an all-day workshop on Howard Thurman, led by Lerita Coleman Brown. It will take place June 6; please save the date so you will have an opportunity to participate in this workshop on one of America’s most important 20th century contemplatives. Also in this issue: a beautiful hymn for Advent, along with information about several additional contemplative activities that are coming up soon around our region.
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!
Winter Retreat February 20-23: An Invitation to “Enter the Chaos”
by Alan Krema
This February, we will be offering a retreat called Enter the Chaos: Engage the Differences to Make a Difference at the Portiuncula Center in Frankfort Illinois. We’ve been hosting Winter Retreats for a number of years now, but this one will be a bit different.
Last April I was very blessed to attend an earlier Enter the Chaos retreat. It is a four-day retreat full of Centering Prayer and fully engaged with the many differences we find in our present-day relationships.
I was very moved by the power of the retreat to open my awareness of connection and unity with people from widely diverse backgrounds. The retreat considered the perspective of the stages of human growth and development, as described by “integral theory” and “spiral dynamics.” We considered the relationships of our lives, close family and friends as well as societal and political relationships. When we considered the positions and perspectives of others from the point of view of the way they see reality from their stage on the psycho-spiritual journey, we came to a deeper understanding of them as fellow human beings.
Combined with contemplative meditation, which opens our hearts and boundaries, I felt a deep connection to others and found a new place from which to converse with them. I experienced a new intention to embody and engage with values of sharing and working with others who have diverse thoughts and opinions.
Enter the Chaos is a unique opportunity to combine extensive communal and individual contemplative practice with a deep teaching of Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory of stages of development, as formulated in the Spiral Dynamics context by Don Beck. This combination will grow the power of personal engagement with your life’s relationships in a dramatic opening of boundaries, using the mind to serve the heart.
The retreat/workshop was designed and developed by the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue (ICCD). The program reflects the commitment of the ICCD to communal contemplation as a powerful transformative practice that develops within us a new way of seeing our self and the world. It teaches us to use the power of dialogue to engage each other across differences and generate creative new responses.
If you have wondered, “What can I do?” to better participate in our polarized societal discourse, this retreat will help a great deal. You can take a look at the complete retreat description and have an opportunity to register on the event page.
Looking Forward to Spring: Please Save the Date for a Full-Day Workshop on Howard Thurman – June 6
What does it mean to be a freed human spirit?
Join us on June 6 for a journey through the life and writings of Howard Thurman and a taste of his contemplative practices. Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was one of the most important and influential contemplatives of the 20th Century. As a mystic, theologian and spiritual adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Thurman possessed the uncanny and prophetic ability to make a connection between silence and social justice work. As the spiritual architect of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Thurman chose to engage in sacred activism —work that would serve all people — and to use the contemplative experience as a path to peace, purpose and empowerment. He wrote about this desire in Jesus and the Disinherited, a book that Dr. King carried with him whenever he marched, and his advocacy of the common unity among all of God’s holy children is highlighted in a later book, The Creative Encounter.
Our guide for this workshop will be Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD, Ayşe I. Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, and a spiritual director/companion, writer, retreat leader, and speaker. She earned her BA from UC Santa Cruz and PhD from Harvard University. A graduate of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Professor Brown promotes contemplative spirituality, the living wisdom of Howard Thurman, and uncovering the peace and joy in one’s heart on her website, peaceforhearts.com and other social media platforms. Her recent chapter, “Dissecting Racism: Healing Minds, Cultivating Spirits,” was published in the edited volume, Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America. Her book, When the Heart Speaks, Listen—Discovering Inner Wisdom was released in 2019.
Registration for this event will begin next month. In the meantime, if you would like to know more about Howard Thurman’s life and work, we recommend viewing the recent PBS documentary Backs Against the Wall, which features commentary by Professor Brown among other Thurman experts.
Other Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences
International Thomas Merton Society’s January Meeting Will Discuss a New Book on James Martin, SJ
James Martin, SJ, is one of the most recognized and influential Catholic priests in the United States. His book My Life with the Saints introduced hundreds of thousands of readers to saintly heroes, including Thomas Merton, and to Fr. Jim’s own spiritual journey. More recently, Fr. Jim’s book Building a Bridge has called the Catholic Church to more respect and compassion for the LGBT Community. His articulate and winsome personality has endeared him to millions inside and outside the Church.
Author Jon M. Sweeney, who lives in Milwaukee and is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the ITMS, has set out to tell the story of Fr. Jim’s life and to explore the experiences that made him the person he is today in a forthcoming biography that will be available for sale when Jon talks to the Chicago Chapter on January 19 at 2:00pm in the Immaculate Conception Rectory Assembly, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago. A freewill offering will be taken (suggested contribution $5) and refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Mike at 773-447-3989.
Save the Dates: Eight Day Intensive and Post-Intensive Retreats July 12-19 – Benet Lake Wisconsin
Intensive Retreat and Post-Intensive Retreats offer you an opportunity to deepen the practice of Centering Prayer in an atmosphere of profound silence and community support. These extended retreats are offered every summer, alternating between Contemplative Outreach of Southeast Wisconsin (2020) and Contemplative Outreach Chicago (2021). Registration will be available next month.
Ongoing Centering Prayer “11th Step” Programs – 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 every Wednesday at 8:00pm in the 12 Step House, 4454 N. Damen. Another group meets on the first Friday of each month 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 both programs, please contact Philip Lo Dolce — email@example.com.)
Advent Hymn: God of All People
by David Haas
God of all places, present, unseen;
Voice in our silence, song in our midst.
We are your people, knowing, unsure.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
God of all dreaming, near and yet far.
Vision unheard of, wake us to rest.
We are your presence, sent forth afraid.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
God of all people, dust and the clay.
Breath of a new wind, fire in our hearts.
Light born of heaven, peace on the earth.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Please 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 firstname.lastname@example.org