- Alan Krema reflects on our mission: “Embracing transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others through the practice of Centering Prayer.”
- Discounted Early Bird registration is available until February 29 for our all-day workshop on Howard Thurman, offered by Lerita Coleman Brown on June 6.
- An in-depth, four-day Servant Leader retreat will take place in late May. All are invited.
- We provide a listing of selected contemplative events that are coming up soon, sponsored by other organizations.
- Help Wanted: Can you bring more social media savvy to Contemplative Outreach Chicago?
- This month’s Insights come from Rami Shapiro, Shunryu Suzuki, Robert Barron, and Thomas Merton.
Please give us your thoughts on 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!
NOTE: Our Winter Retreat – “Enter the Chaos” – is fully booked. We hope you can join us for the upcoming Servant-Leader Retreat in May and/or the Howard Thurman one-day workshop in June!
Looking Forward: Transformation Is a Constant Expansion of our Heart and Awareness
by Alan Krema
It is with a deep-felt sense of privilege that I send you my thoughts each month in our Spirit Journal newsletter. Last month I summarized our activities from last year and now I am looking forward to how we can open to our work this year.
There is so much activity with which we are involved here in Chicago, and in everything we do we focus on our mission of “Embracing transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others through the practice of Centering Prayer.” This is a calling to live a life rooted in love, with a conscious awareness of our relationship with the divine indwelling and a creative engagement with the action of the Holy Spirit. Transformation is a constant expansion of our heart and awareness. In our activities we attempt to broaden and deepen this sense of transformation by engaging and being present to a variety of ways in which the Spirit is moving.
I feel this in the variety of activities that we engage in as a chapter. We are looking forward to our winter retreat this weekend, – Enter the Chaos. This is a partnership with the Institute for Contemplation and Communal Dialog. It is a contemplative retreat with a combination of creating space for our awareness and engaging with cognitive aspects of societal identifications from a conscious expansion of our ability to hold in love all aspects of our reality.
We are also hosting a Servant Leader retreat in late May, which is intended for those with some experience in contemplative practice who want to engage the presence of the divine indwelling within the context of service. This retreat is presented by two long-time associates of Contemplative Outreach and who have served closely with the late Fr. Thomas Keating.
We have also just recently announced a workshop day on the life and teaching of Howard Thurman. This is a creative attempt to join in conversation across a cultural gap about the basic topics of our core of goodness, our relationship to divine nature, and our consent to the action and movement of the Spirit. We trust that such a shared conversation will broaden and deepen our mission and we open ourselves with intention and consent to working across cultural divides.
We will also be inviting each of you to participate in a chapter discernment day later this year. Plans are still in the works, but we intend to present the state of our local chapter for your information and shared discussion. We also will engage with any ideas about how to further our mission from each of you, and invite you to find a path to share in our chapter’s communal work.
We are also just beginning our planning for the annual fall workshop and will have more to offer on that in following newsletters.
I wish each of you a blessed journey and hope for each of us to open to the movement and growth that our life offers us, as we see in nature of our winter soon turning into spring.
Join Us for a Full-Day Workshop on Howard Thurman – June 6 at Chicago Theological Seminary in Hyde Park
What does it mean to be a freed human spirit?
Join us on June 6 to learn more about Howard Thurman and how he succeeded in merging contemplation and action in the interest of social justice and the American civil rights movement. This workshop will take us on a journey through the life and writings of Howard Thurman and provide 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.
Workshop Leader: Lerita Coleman Brown, PhD
Our guide for the 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.
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 Lerita Brown among other Thurman experts.
For complete information and a chance to take advantage of discounted Early Bird Registration, please Register Here.
Servant Leader Retreat – May 28-31
Entitled Deepening the Contemplative Dimension of Servant Leadership, this retreat is offered for persons who are currently engaged in serving Contemplative Outreach or other spiritual networks, employed in service vocations, or those who may envision exploring the experience of offering loving service to others with a deeper level of understanding. All are welcome.
The retreat will explore important questions such as:
- What is servant leadership?
- What is authentic service?
- Whom are we serving?
The four day program was inspired by Fr. Thomas Keating, who envisioned providing a unique opportunity to deeply reflect on the nature and essence of authentic service, exploring the impact of Centering Prayer, which gently cultivates an interior call to service and movement to a contemplative dimension of spirituality and service. In community, we will explore topics that move us from a mythic to mystic expression of contemplative service and other topics to enrich and support our contemplative journey. The retreat program will include periods of Centering Prayer in community, silence, chant and wisdom circles.
Workshop Leaders: Susan Komis and Susan Rush
The Servant Leader Retreat will be guided by Susan Komis and Susan Rush, two Contemplative Outreach leaders who bring in-depth expertise and extensive experience to the work. It will take place Thursday, May 28th through Sunday, May 31st at the Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfurt, Illinois.
For complete information and a chance to register, please visit our website.
Other Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences
International Thomas Merton Society Meeting Schedule, February-April
Here is the Merton Society line-up for the next few months:
Sunday, Feb. 16: Dr. Pauline Viviano, “The Time of No Room: Thomas Merton’s Reflections on the Past Century.” Access this link for more information.
Sunday, Mar. 15: Anthony Nuccio, “What Does It Mean to Be at Peace? A Mertonian Engagement with Anti-fascist Organizing and Thought”
Sunday, Apr. 19: Matthew Reid, “Contemplative Influence on Contemporary Culture”
Merton Society meetings take place 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.
Chicago Peace School Fundraiser – February 23
The Chicago Peace School will be holding its “Fabulous February Fundraiser” on Sunday February 23 from 1:00-4:00pm at 3121 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago. Information and tickets are available here.
Peace Day has been officially celebrated in Chicago every year since 1978 through the work of The Peace School, a non-profit educational organization. Chicago pioneered the celebration of Peace Day and serves as a model for cities throughout the world. Three years before the United Nations established the International Day of Peace, Chicago designated an official Peace Day on September 7, 1978. Chicago is the only major city in the world with such a long history of peacebuilding through annual Peace Day events, and is an official United Nations Peace Messenger city.
The Art of Pausing: Reclaiming a Sense of Balance in Our Lives – February 23
Subtitled Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed, this inspiring afternoon will explore scripture and its message for us today. There is a monastic saying, “cut back, it will grow stronger.” In our intensely active, highly mobile and socially inter-connected society, we seem to have lost the simple pleasure of pausing. But there are ways to pause periodically and still be productive.
Looking to ancient contemplative practices and some modern-day ones as well, this workshop will explore how to slow down, seek balance and allow our souls catch up with the rest of our lives. It will be presented by Judith Valente, an awarding-winning author, print and broadcast journalist, a former religion correspondent for PBS-TV, former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal, poet, and essayist.
Sponsored by the Benedictine Oblates, this event is free and open to the public at Benedictine Sisters of Chicago St. Scholastica Monastery, 7430 N. Ridge Blvd, Chicago from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 23. Free will offering at the door benefits the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago.
Transformative Dreamwork: An Experiential Workshop – February 29
“Dreams arise from a larger field than our everyday consciousness inhabits, and often come to us in a language and landscape all their own,” says workshop leader Susan Pannier-Cass. “By engaging with our dreams, their meanings can reveal what we need to know for greater health and wholeness.”
The workshop will teach the unique symbolic language of dreams, why we should pay attention to them, and how to better recall dreams, and will also discuss willing participants’ dreams in an engaging, interactive group process to help reveal their deeper meaning.
Susan Pannier-Cass is an ordained interfaith minister, kundalini yoga and meditation teacher, and is the spiritual director at the Claret Center in Hyde Park. She is a student of the Jungian Studies Program (JSP) at the Jung Institute in Chicago.
The workshop on dreams takes place Saturday, February 29, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. at the Theosophical Society in Wheaton. For more further information or to register, please visit the Theosophical Society website.
Healing Gardens Plans 2020’s First Silent Saturday in March and an Enneagram Workshop in April
In an early hint that spring is on the way, Healing Gardens at Stonehill Farm in St. Charles has announced the first Silent Saturday of 2020, to take place on March 21. Healing Gardens has also scheduled a Level 1 Enneagram Workshop for April 18. For more information, please visit the Healing Gardens website.
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 for this summer’s retreat is now available on the Contemplative Outreach of Southeast Wisconsin website.
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 Tuesday 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.)
Can You Help Us Bring the Contemplative Outreach Message to Social Media?
Contemplative Outreach Chicago is working to expand awareness of Centering Prayer and contemplation throughout the Chicago/northern Indiana region. However, we are not currently doing enough to support this mission through social media. In fact, our social media presence is quite limited, so . . .
We are now in search of a social media enthusiast who can volunteer to help get our message out via Facebook and other important channels. If this sounds like an idea you might like to explore, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knowing yourself as a wave is knowing the relative world, the world of seemingly separate beings. Knowing yourself as the sea is knowing the absolute world, the world of the One who is all these seemingly separate waves.
– Rami Shapiro
You are wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from the joy of human relationships. God’s place is all around us, it is in everything and in anything we can experience. People just need to change the way they look at things.
– Shunryu Suzuki
We sense within ourselves the hunger for God, but we attempt to satisfy it with some created good that is less than God. Thomas Aquinas said that the four typical substitutes for God are wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. Sensing the void within, we attempt to fill it up with some combination of these four things, but only by emptying out the self in love can we make the space for God to fill us.
– Robert Barron
There is greater comfort in the substance of silence than in the answer to a question.
– Thomas Merton
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 email@example.com.