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Spirit Journal – February 2018


This issue provides new information about the ongoing 2018 Living Wisdom Program and our rescheduled “Winter” Weekend Retreat.

We also inform you about several other upcoming contemplative activities and events, locally and regionally.  February Insights come from Ram Dass, Martin Luther King Jr., Victoria Rosales, and Howard Thurman.

Thank you very much to those who have written in to help us make Spirit Journal an active forum for the members and friends of Contemplative Outreach – Chicago.  We invite your active participation, as well: use the email address provided at the end to send in your responses, ideas and insights.  We love hearing from you!

The Living Wisdom Series Continues March 24 with “Spirituality from the Ground Up: The Hebraic Roots of the Wisdom Jesus”

Our 2018 Living Wisdom program kicked off last Saturday as David Orth and Alan Krema offered an insightful introduction to the life and teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and explored his “esoteric Christianity,” a strong influence on the work of Cynthia Bourgeault.  For information on the full 2018 Living Wisdom program and a chance to register for the remaining sessions, please visit the Contemplative Outreach – Chicago website.

The March Living Wisdom workshop is a unique look at Wisdom as presented in the Old Testament, which is the Wisdom that Jesus learned and embraced.   Workshop leader Jeff Ediger offers the following reflection on his topic:

Spirituality From the Ground Up: The Hebraic Roots of the Wisdom Jesus

by Jeff Ediger

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year?  If you did, you were using what Daniel Pink calls a “temporal landmark.”  Similar to the way we use physical landmarks to find our way through space, temporal landmarks help us find our way through time.  New Year’s Day is a particular kind of temporal landmark.  This marker offers us the possibility of putting the past behind us and making a “fresh start.”

While insightful, Pink’s observations are not new. The sages of the Hebraic Wisdom Tradition would have discerned these insights as relevant to the “proper time.” Every human activity, they had discovered, has its proper time, including the ideal time to make a “fresh start”!  The wise person is one who discerns the proper time to undertake any activity, then “seizes the day,” doing what needs to be done without delay…and s/he scores!  (Wisdom is all about achieving success in life.  But it is a kind of success that is centered on something much greater than the ego.)

Our exploration of this wisdom theme will offer a useful introduction to the body of biblical literature commonly referred to as the Hebraic Wisdom Tradition. The writings associated with this tradition include the following:  Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Wisdom of Ben Sira, The Wisdom of Solomon, and selected Psalms.

Rescheduled: The “Winter” Weekend Retreat Now April 6-8

Our 2018 Winter Weekend Retreat had to be postponed because of the big snowstorm that took place on the originally scheduled dates in early February.  So, it will actually be more of a spring retreat this year, now set for April 6-8, still at the lovely Portiuncula Center in Frankfurt, Illinois.

The retreat is titled “From the Mind to the Heart.” It will share some of the wisdom teachings of Cynthia Bourgeault and engage in heart awareness practices to deepen our experience of Centering Prayer and the Welcoming Prayer.  We will also have an opportunity to review and discuss parts of Thomas Keating’s latest book, also entitled From the Mind to the Heart.

Much of the weekend will be in silence.  The teachings are balanced with practice and experience.

We hope you will consider attending.  Registration has been re-opened through April 2.  For further information, please visit our website.

Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences

Here are some additional upcoming contemplative activities that may be of interest:

Ongoing Centering Prayer “11th Step” Programs in Northfield and 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, two new Centering Prayer-based 11th step groups have formed.  One meets on Sundays, 4:30-5:15, at 319 Waukegan Road in Northfield.  For more information, please contact Leonette Kaluzny –

Another Centering Prayer 11th step program 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 —

Healing Gardens 2018 Programs Starting in March

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 scheduled so far for 2018:

Silent Saturday, March 17, 9:00am-noon (additional Silent Saturdays are scheduled throughout the spring, summer, and fall)

Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop, Saturday March 24, 8:45am – 3:00pm (another Introductory Workshop is scheduled for July 28

Level One Enneagram Workshop, Saturday April 7, 8:45am – 3:30pm

Level Two Enneagram Workshop, Saturday July 14, 8:45am – 3:30pm

For more information and registration, please visit the Healing Gardens website.

Merton Society’s Continuing Series of Sunday Afternoon Programs, the Next on March 18

The March 18 meeting will feature long-time member and Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg, sharing a Lenten message on Merton & the Works of Mercy.

On April 15, International Thomas Merton Society Board Member Judith Valente will discuss her forthcoming book, How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community.

All of the Merton Society presentations are held Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Rectory Assembly of Immaculate Conception Parish, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago. Signs with arrows indicating “Merton Lecture” will be posted.

No special reading or background is required for any of these Merton Society talks, which are open to the public. Admission is a freewill offering. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call Mike Brennan at 773-447-3989. RSVPs to are welcome, but not required.

This Summer: Advanced/Post-Intensive Retreats, Benet Lake, Wisconsin

Contemplative Outreach of Southeast Wisconsin offers this year’s eight-day retreat July 15-22 at St. Benedict’s Abbey and Retreat Center in Benet Lake, Wisconsin.

The retreats, guided by Kathryn Ann Kobelinski, SSND and Ann Koerner, CSA, will immerse participants in the practice of Centering Prayer as taught by Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.  These Advanced/Post Intensive retreats allow participants to come together for Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina and meal times. They provide an atmosphere of silence, solitude and community.

For further information, please contact Sr. Kathryn Ann at 414-282-7310 or To register, use this mail-in form.

Midwest Wisdom Schools in Dubuque Iowa, the Next in August

If you are longing to go deeper in your Centering Prayer practice, and perhaps yearning for a community of like-hearted seekers, you are invited to participate in one or more Wisdom Schools being offered next year at the Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque:

August 6-9, 2018: Surrendering Into Presence (Centering Prayer and Non-duality)

Oct 15-18, 2018: Placing Our Mind in Our Heart (Introductory Level Wisdom School, Part A)

These Wisdom schools are led by Beth O’Brien, Benedictine oblate and Founder of Contemplative Presence.  A long-time Centering Prayer practitioner, Beth has been a direct student of Cynthia Bourgeault.  In 2014, she received Cynthia’s blessing to teach and carry forth the Wisdom lineage.  Beth led a one-day workshop on Mary Magdalene that was part of Contemplative Outreach – Chicago’s Living Wisdom Series in 2017.  For more information & registration, please visit the Contemplative Presence website.


We can’t push away the world.  We have to enter into life fully in order to become free.

– Ram Dass

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

– Martin Luther King Jr.

The contemplative’s motivation for social engagement is not simply to improve the lot of the marginalized or disenfranchised, not only to correct injustice or remove harm, but to restore communion with the Divine and one another. May we surrender in consent to divine love, that we may become the we the world longs for.

– Victoria Rosales

There must be always remaining in every life, some place for the singing of angels, some place for that which in itself is breathless and beautiful.

– Howard Thurman

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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