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Spirit Journal – December 2018


This final issue of 2018 begins with a warm and heartfelt Christmas greeting to all of our members from Contemplative Outreach – Chicago.  Then we share information about the first workshop of the 2019 Living Wisdom Program – Mystical Poetry During Times of Trouble – coming up in less than a month on January 12.

Next up is an invitation to participate in the Winter Weekend Retreat in February.  The 2019 iteration of this long-running annual event will focus on the Welcoming Prayer Practice.  We also provide information about several additional contemplative activities that are coming up soon and may be of interest, along with Insights from Thomas Keating.

As always, we invite you to 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!

A Christmas Greeting

by Alan Krema

Merry Christmas to all of our newsletter readers!

We have had a very deep and meaningful year as the Chicago Chapter of Contemplative Outreach.  I hope all of you are well and feel well connected to Contemplative Outreach and contemplative prayer practices.   Our daily lives are all made much more open to the work of the Spirit as we open ourselves to the sensation and energy of our lives beyond the mental constrictions of our egoic false self.

Thank you all who participated in our fall workshop with Cynthia Bourgeault.  It was a wonderful day.  And thank you especially to those who very graciously had to decline attending because of our rescheduling of the workshop due to the passing of our beloved Fr. Thomas Keating.   We do not yet have a video presentation of Cynthia’s teaching, but we hope to have one soon and will let you know how to access it.

As we now sit in the advent season, we open to the spaciousness of the birth of Jesus and of Christ becoming. Here is an advent prayer I would like to share:

Inner Life of Being

Bearing Christ within me


Waiting, anticipating, listening, watching, allowing, opening,

suspended in love, attending to and relating to what may be and what may come.

Embrace my inner life, allowing it place in my outer life.

Christ becoming, my becoming,

flowing into and through the landscape of my body, soul, and spirit.

Come . . . . . Come . . . . . Come.

I wish you a very blessed advent and a very merry Christmas.

In great love,


The 2019 Living Wisdom Program Starts January 12 with Mystical Poetry

The Living Wisdom Program is a series of four full-day Saturday workshops to be held at the Tau Center in Wheaton, 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.  For complete program information and registration, please visit the Living Wisdom event page.

The 2019 program will kick off January 12 with a workshop entitled Mystical Poetry During Times of Trouble, led by the Rev. Alison Hine.  During these dangerous and apocalyptic times — times of a deep unveiling — the voices of the Prophets and the Mystics rise up to awaken the soul of humanity to its true conscience and to the light and fire of spirit within each of us. Using digital images created by Rev. Hine and a collective, contemplative, innovative form of “Visual Midrash,” we will dive into these sacred verses.

Your Invitation to 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 the basics of the Welcoming Prayer Practice and explore the embodied Wisdom dimension of the Welcoming Prayer.  We will explore attentiveness to the wholeness of our being and open to the knowledge and presence resident in our bodies.  Centering Prayer and the Welcoming Prayer Practice will open us to a deepening sense of presence.

We will explore the calling to live in a higher mode of consciousness, one of abundance and liberation.  This invocation comes with responsibility to remove the obstacles we own in our body which arise from the addictive and reactive structures that restrict our growth.

For more information about the Welcoming Prayer Practice, have a look at last month’s Spirit Journal.  To register, visit the Winter Weekend Retreat event page.

Other 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 —

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 at Winnetka Congregational Church, 75 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,

The Universal Christ: Another Name for Everything – March 28-31 – Albuquerque New Mexico or Online

This conference, presented by the Center for Action and Contemplation, explores the idea that Christ is more than Jesus’ last name. Jesus is a person whose example we can follow. Christ is a cosmic life principle in which all beings participate. The incarnation is an ongoing revelation of Christ, uniting matter and spirit, operating as one and everywhere. Together—Jesus and Christ—show us “the way, the truth, and the life” of death and resurrection. Featured speakers are Richard Rohr, Jacqui Lewis, John Dominic Crossan, and Janet McKenzie. For complete information and registration for in-person or online participation, visit the CAC website.


Centering Prayer really includes any effort at interior silence in the presence of God that evokes more and more of our total surrender to that presence.

Consent is not an effort.  Surrender is not an effort.  And transformation is something only God can do.  From that perspective, it should be easy.  So, my heartfelt prayer for each of you is: Keep going!  And, have invincible confidence that this is God’s work in you, and do not be afraid to ask that what he has begun in you might be completed.

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.

Humanity as a whole needs a breakthrough into the contemplative dimension of life. This is the Life at the heart of the world. There, the human family is already one.

– 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

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