In this first issue of the new year, we invite your participation in an important “Discernment Day” on March 5 to help plan future directions for our organization, and we also ask for a special favor: please take a few minutes to complete a quick survey that will help us create an expanded lineup of 2016 programs.
This issue also includes Part 2 of Alan Krema’s discussion of the Wisdom School, important news about our upcoming Winter Weekend Retreat, information about new activities at Healing Gardens, an introduction to the Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey, and insights from Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Merton, Sheng-Yen, and Thomas Aquinas.
As always, we invite you to help us make Spirit Journal a more valuable and interesting forum for Chicago-area contemplatives. Use the e-mail address at the end to send your ideas, contributions and feedback.
Discernment Day: Please Join Us on March 5
We hope you will get involved and help plan Contemplative Outreach-Chicago’s future. On Saturday, March 5, we will be meeting for a day of visioning and discernment, an opportunity for all persons attending Centering Prayer groups or interested in learning about Centering Prayer to gather together to assess our needs as a developing contemplative community.
This is your chance to get involved and help plan future growth and direction for Contemplative Outreach in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana region. We are excited about this day and encourage all to attend.
The day will include large and small group processes, led by Susan Komis, a skilled and experienced group process facilitator, who is a leader of Contemplative Outreach at the national level. All participants will have an opportunity to offer input and be a part of planning for our future as a Contemplative Outreach community.
One key decision we will address is the selection of a new Coordinator for Contemplative Outreach-Chicago. Phil Jackson’s two-year term in this important leadership role is coming to an end, and the March 5 meeting will include a careful process to choose Phil’s successor. It would be very helpful to have a large turnout of Centering Prayer practitioners to participate in making this decision.
Our Discernment Day will take place Saturday, March 5, 8:30am – 3:00pm at Mary Seat of Wisdom Church in Park Ridge. Lunch will be provided. RSVP: If you can join us, please e-mail Phil Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can plan for the right number of participants.
We look forward to seeing you on March 5!
The Wisdom School – Part 2: The Wisdom Way of Knowing
by Alan Krema
(In our newsletter last month, Alan introduced the Wisdom School as a means of enhancing and deepening our experience and attentiveness to the divine indwelling, which is the core of the Contemplative Outreach vision. This month, in Part 2, he provides an overview of the true meaning of wisdom, and in later newsletters will describe the core elements of wisdom as taught in the Wisdom School. – Ed.)
Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, “The Wisdom Way of Knowing” (WWoK) is an excellent starting point and introduction to Wisdom. She describes Wisdom as, “a specific and precise lineage of spiritual knowledge…an ancient tradition, not limited to one particular religious expression but at the headwaters of all the great sacred paths.”
If you feel called to work with this Wisdom tradition, I will invite you at the end of this article to respond to that call and join a practice group.
The wisdom practice engages our entire being. This includes three centers: the intellectual center, the heart center, and the moving center. To deepen our experience of the methods of centering prayer, lectio divina, and the welcoming prayer, we practice observing these three aspects of the self. This leads to a way of knowing that engages the full self, not just the brain or intellect. In seeking wisdom, we must also use the knowledge of the heart and the body to become more deeply aware.
Please Help Plan Our 2016 Programs
Contemplative Outreach – Chicago is currently evaluating two programs we may offer later in 2016. Each program would consist of a series of Saturday workshops beginning in fall 2016 and extending through spring 2017. We will almost certainly offer one of the programs, and may offer both if there is sufficient interest in participating. (Note: These activities would be in addition to our annual Fall One-Day Workshop, not in place of it.)
Please help us by clicking this link to complete a quick survey (less than five minutes) that will help us gauge the level of interest in each program and decide how to proceed.
The Living Flame Program
One of the programs we are considering is called The Living Flame. This long-established Contemplative Outreach program has been well-received when previously available in Chicago, but hasn’t been offered here in about ten years. Based on Thomas Keating’s writings and programs, Living Flame is appropriate for anyone who has a new or well-established Centering Prayer practice and is interested deepening the contemplative experience.
Winter Weekend Retreat: Lodging Waitlist and Commuter Registration
Understanding and Navigating the Dark Night: February 5-7 at the Portiuncula Center
This year’s retreat, led by the Rev. Dr. Shawn Kafader at the Portiuncula Center in St. Francis Woods, Frankfort, Illinois, will explore St. John of the Cross’ concepts of the Dark Night of the Senses and the Dark Night of the Spirit — together these have come to be known as The Dark Night of the Soul.
Lodging for the retreat is full, but we are maintaining a waitlist, in case of cancellations. Also, “commuter” registrations are still available. To join the waitlist, please e-mail Alan Krema at email@example.com. To sign up as a commuter, click this link and mail in the registration form by February 2.
2016 Events Scheduled at Healing Gardens
Healing Gardens, a lovely two-acre expanse of woodland and perennial gardens in Saint Charles, Illinois, has announced a number of contemplative events during 2016. Plans include two opportunities to take part in introductory Centering Prayer workshops, the first on Saturday March 19, and five scheduled Silent Saturdays, the first on March 5. For more information, visit the Healing Gardens website.
Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey – Chicago Community
by Kate Manos
The Lay Cistercians are a group of committed Christians who feel called to follow the Cistercian charism and spirituality of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky. We are ordinary people living ordinary lives who give ourselves over to the seeking of God’s will in our lives through spiritual formation that leads us to become people of prayer. We strive to practice the Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, praying often and listening to the silence so that, through God’s grace, we may receive the gift of a contemplative prayer life.
We study the Rule of Benedict and the Cistercian values to guide us as we seek insight into our lives and relationships. In doing so, those values mold our modern lives towards simplicity, silence, prayer and community. Our Chicago group is one of eight Lay Cistericans of Gethsemani communities. Others are located in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, as well as other parts of the United States. All communities exist with the blessing of the Abbey of Gethsemani and are guided by their counsel to ensure our lay Cistercian presence in the world reflects the monastic call to love and sacrifice through work and prayer for God Alone.
The Chicago community meets on the second Saturday of every month for an afternoon of Lectio Divina, prayer, sharing and discussion of common reading. Additionally, all eight communities participate in an annual retreat at the Abbey of Gethesmani.
Find out more at Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nature is full of genius, full of divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
– Henry David Thoreau
No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.
– Thomas Merton
Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the steam. Have faith in its course. It will go its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you.
Creation is the primary and most perfect revelation of the Divine. The immense diversity and pluriformity of this creation more perfectly represents God than any one creature alone or by itself.
– Thomas Aquinas
Do you want to comment on or add to any of the items in this month’s newsletter? Are you aware of an upcoming event you think other contemplatives should know about? An inspirational quote you’d like to share? A book, website, podcast, or video to recommend? If so, please contribute by emailing the newsletter editor at email@example.com.