Happy Spring! We hope you had a wonderful Easter. April’s Spirit Journal announces that “early bird” registration is now underway for the Living Flame program that starts in October, as well as for this summer’s Eight-Day Intensive/Post Intensive Retreats. Alan Krema writes about the “Enter the Chaos” retreat he recently attended in Michigan. This retreat will be offered in our area next February
We are also delighted to publish a prayerful poem by Deb Marqui of Healing Gardens, as well as the third and final installment of a Pluck the Day . . . for It Is Ripe, by Jeff Ediger.
Finally, we provide information about several additional contemplative activities that are coming up soon and may be of interest, along with Insights from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Howard Thurman, David Steindl-Rast, and Mary van Balen.
As always, we hope you will 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!
The Living Flame Program Starts October 12
Sign Up Now – The First 15 people to register will receive a very substantial “early bird” discount!
Registration is now open for the Living Flame Program, which was last offered here in Chicago more than ten years ago. The first 15 registrants may sign up for all seven workshops for only $195, then the price goes up to $235 for Advance Registration. A few weeks before the program begins, the price will increase again to $260. Please consider signing up early to take advantage of the savings.
The Living Flame program has been updated and re-designed by Father Thomas Keating and the national circle of service in recent years. It includes seven full-day offerings of in-depth spiritual study presented over a seven-month period by commissioned presenters from the various Contemplative Outreach Service Teams.
Designed to teach the vital conceptual background needed to support a faithful practice of Centering Prayer, the program also offers encouragement and support in a small community setting, heightens the awareness of the purification process, helps discern when psychological skills can be helpful tools, and provides the opportunity to give and receive spiritual companionship.
All Living Flame workshops will take place at Mary Seat of Wisdom Church in Park Ridge. Specific dates are:
October 12 Deepening Our Centering Prayer Practice
November 9 Lectio Divina
December 7 The Human Condition
February 1 Divine Therapy
March 7 The Dark Night of Sense
March 28 The Welcoming Prayer Practice
April 18 The Discernment Practice
For more information and an opportunity to register, please visit the Living Flame event page today!
Eight-Day Intensive/Post-Intensive Retreat, July 14-21 at the Beautiful Portiuncula Center
by Alan Krema
Our local Chapter is hosting an Intensive and Post Intensive silent retreat this coming July 14-21, 2019. This is an event we host every other year, with the alternate years hosted by the Milwaukee Chapter.
The retreat is held at the Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, Illinois, which is a beautiful setting for time to sit in prayer and listen to the voice of God in your heart. The Intensive and Post Intensive Retreat share the same venue and the majority of the format. The Intensive is meant for those who are participating in this extended retreat for the first time.
Our guides this year are both deeply experienced in centering prayer and spiritual direction and will form a warm, sustaining space for a contemplative experience. I welcome you to consider joining us this year. It is a powerful experience. If you have any questions about this retreat, please contact me.
For more information and a chance to register, please visit the retreat’s web page.
Enter the Chaos
by Alan Krema
Two weeks ago, I was very blessed to attend a retreat in Michigan called “Enter the Chaos.” This event is a four-day retreat fully engaged in Centering Prayer and meditation, along with being fully engaged with the many differences we find in our present-day relationships.
I was very moved by the power of the retreat to transform my being into a being of connection and unity with other people from widely diverse backgrounds. The retreat utilized the perspective of the stages of human growth and development as described by Don Beck as 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, we come to a deeper understanding of them as fellow human beings.
Combined with contemplative meditation in order open 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 with a diversity of thought and opinion.
Contemplative Outreach Chicago Chapter will host this retreat February 20 – 23, 2020.
This is a unique opportunity to combine a deep teaching of Ken Wilber’s Integral theory of stages of development, as formulated in the Spiral dynamic context and developed by Don Beck, with extensive communal and individual contemplative practice. 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.
If you have wondered, “What can I do?” to better participate in our polarized societal discourse, this retreat will help a great deal.
This retreat/workshop was designed and developed by the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue (ICCD). The program Enter the Chaos: Engage the Differences to Make a Difference reflects the commitment of the ICCD to communal contemplation as a powerful transformative practice that develops within us a new way of seeing ourselves and the world with the power of dialogue to engage each other across differences and generate creative new responses. For more information and a retreat description, please take a look at the ICCD website.
We will begin registration for this retreat on the Contemplative Outreach Chicago website in June.
A poem by Deb Marqui
(Deb Marqui is the creator of Healing Gardens at Stone Hill Farm, which is located in St. Charles and is open to the public for silent meditation and a growing lineup of contemplative events, see below.)
I watched the squirrels.
One ran from another and hid
in a hole in an old, gnarled honey locust tree.
Today, after meditation
I tried to hide from God.
Hiding my face in shame,
I saw on a deeper level my imperfections
of selfishness, my critical attitude
about how people dress, look, act and
my impatience with being versus doing.
God comes and finds me.
Leaning down God places warm hands
on my shoulders and says,
“Do not hide from me.
You will be called
‘The One Who Knows Herself.’
Looking deeply into yourself
will help you understand
the depths of human nature
and the depth of my love for you
just as you are.”
Tearfully, watching the squirrels play,
I sit with this paradox
of being deeply loved
knowing the depth of my imperfections
grateful and unworthy
of this consuming tenderness
Other Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences
Here are some additional contemplative activities that may be of interest to you:
This Sunday April 28: The International Thomas Merton Society Offers a Private Showing of the Acclaimed Documentary “In Search of Silence”
According to Scott Tobias of NPR, “As much a visual treat as an aural one, the film divides its time between using the tools of cinema to isolate and enhance the beauty of sounds and silence and exploring different schools of thought on the subject.” The screening will take place in the Rectory Assembly of Immaculate Conception Parish, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago at 2:00pm this Sunday. All are welcome. Look for “MERTON LECTURE” signs if you are unfamiliar with the location.
Claret Center Open House Saturday May 4 in Hyde Park
The Claret Center cordially invites you to attend an Open House at their Hyde Park campus. The Center’s mission is to help people become whole in mind, body and spirit, and they do this in three ways – through Psychotherapy, Spiritual Direction and Body-Centered Therapies (acupuncture, cranial-sacral massage and therapeutic massage). Meet with practitioners, learn about the programs, tour the facility and sign-up for a brief sample session regarding any of the services. Refreshments will be provided. More information at the Claret Center website.
Eight-Day Intensive/Post-Intensive Retreats near St. Louis, June 7-13
If our July retreat dates don’t work for you, or if you just feel like taking a little trip to the St. Louis area, you may want to consider these extended retreats offered by Contemplative Outreach of St. Louis at the Marianist Retreat Center in Eureka Missouri.
The retreat director is Fr. Bill Sheehan, OMI. Fr. Bill has been involved with Contemplative Outreach since 1983. During that time he has led many Centering Prayer workshops and retreats in different parts of the country. With a Masters degree in Formative Spirituality from Duquesne University, Pittsburg, PA,
Fr. Bill has broad experience in pastoral ministry, serving the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida in the
Office of Lay ministry, and as Director of Ministry to Priests. Fr. Bill has served as provincial of the Oblates Eastern America Province as well as Oblate Formation Director and Novice Director.
For further information and registration, please visit the Contemplative Outreach of St. Louis website.
Healing Gardens Spring and Summer Programs Include Silent Saturdays, An Enneagram Workshop, an Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop, and an Awakening in Nature Retreat
Healing Gardens at Stonehill Farm invites you to enjoy two acres of perennial gardens in a quiet wooded setting in St. Charles. A growing list of contemplative activities take place at Healing Gardens, including the following:
Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop, Saturday June 22, 9:00am – 3:30pm
Awakening in Nature Retreat, Sunday July 21, 8:45am-3:00pm
Silent Saturdays, July 13 and August 31, 9:00am – noon
Level 2 Enneagram Workshop, Saturday October 12, 8:45am-3:30pm
For more information and registration, please visit the Healing Gardens website.
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 — firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Pluck the Day . . . for it is Ripe!
By Jeff Ediger
[If you missed Chapters 1 and 2, you can catch up in the February and March editions of Spirit Journal.]
Chapter 3: Oh What a Tangled Web the Day Weaves
Billy Collins begins his poem titled “Morning” with these lines:
Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?
So sweet is the morning, so filled with promise, that the rest of the day pales in comparison. As I noted in the first chapter of this meditation, it is often wise, when a project turns sinister late in the day, to “call it a day” and get a “fresh start” in the morning…because that’s just what the morning is—a fresh start at life!
But the day doesn’t stay fresh.
Have you noticed this? How the day deteriorates as the hours pass by? The morning, so full of promise! We set out to “make hay while the sun shines.” But then we hit “the heat of the day” and things start to get tense. Then there’s that “noonday devil” to contend with. Afternoons can drag on as energy wanes. By the time evening comes around, the day has often come unraveled. That’s why some people turn to drink in the evening–to numb the pain of this unravelling of a day’s intentions. Pretty soon, we’re ready to call it quits and head for bed. It’s not that we didn’t accomplish anything. We just didn’t get as much done as we thought we would in the morning. And more often than not, we get so lost in the muddle of things that, by the end of the day, we can no longer think straight.
You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.
– Howard Thurman
Prayer is not sending in an order and expecting it to be fulfilled. Prayer is attuning yourself to the life of the world, to love, the force that moves the sun and the moon and the stars.
– David Steindl-Rast
I have always believed that sincere seekers of truth, whatever their field of study, spiritual path, or human experience, will come eveually to the same place: The Holy One who is Truth.
– Mary van Balen
As always, you are 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 email@example.com.