This month’s issue features:
- Information about our upcoming workshop on Contemplation and Anti-Racism, presented in collaboration with the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Anti-Racism Committee.
- An introduction to Reflections, a new library of writings about contemplation and related topics, which we’ve recently added to our website
- A poem by Sue Fox McGovern, inspired by her participation in the Living Flame 2 program
- Our monthly listing of additional online and in-person contemplative events
- Insights from Jack Kornfield, Ram Dass, Rami Shapiro and Bernie Glassman
We always love to hear from you! Please give us your thoughts on Spirit Journal by emailing the editor at the address provided at the end of the newsletter.
A Zoom workshop presented by Contemplative Outreach Chicago and the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Anti-Racism Committee
Sunday, April 11, 2021 / 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM CDT
A contemplative gaze renders the world sacramental.
– Elizabeth Johnson
Contemplation and racism are opposites. In Centering Prayer and other contemplative practices, we find a path that opens us up to oneness, while racism denies this reality, insisting instead on the “otherness” of those who may be different from us in appearance or culture.
This workshop will begin with a 30-40 minute contemplative experience, led by Alan Krema, coordinator of Contemplative Outreach Chicago. This will include Centering Prayer as well as body prayer and guided meditation to expand our experience from being centered in the thinking mind to include the moving and emotional centers of our being in the work. In opening ourselves to a greater and more connected state of awareness, we can share our being more openly with others, including others of different backgrounds.
The remainder of the workshop will be presented by members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Anti-Racism Committee (ARC). This committee is a multicultural mix of sisters and lay persons.
Main topics during this second part of the program will include:
- Sharing current stories of racism and resistance
- Becoming aware of microaggressions
- Recognizing and working to eliminate white privilege
Each main topic will be followed by a breakout room discussion session, and the workshop will conclude with a discussion of participants’ responses and hopes, and a prayer for our future.
Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate
Anti-Racism Committee (ARC) Mission Statement
Mindful of the sin of racism and our call to dismantle it in our society, our Anti-Racism Committee is working to raise consciousness and educate within our Congregation, among our Associates, in the institutions we sponsor and in the communities where we live and work.
All are welcome. There is no charge for this workshop. You will have the option of making a freewill donation, if you like, after registering. We hope you will join us on this exploration at the intersection of contemplation and action.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
“Reflections” – a New Archive – Added to the Contemplative Outreach Chicago Website
Reflections is the name of a new library of articles (many published previously in Spirit Journal) that we recently added to our website. We are building this archive by selecting writings we think have continuing value to readers with an interest in Centering Prayer and contemplation. About 25 articles have been posted so far, and the contents will continue to grow in the coming months. The writings are organized under headings such as Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Gratitude, Wisdom Work, Thomas Keating, etc.
Please click here and take a little time to explore Reflections, then let us know what you think.
A poem by Sue Fox McGovern
Sue Fox McGovern is participating in the ongoing Living Flame 2 program. and was inspired to write this beautiful poem back in February (before the weather warmed up).
The blinds on the second-floor window
Scroll up to reveal an early morning sky
Laced with long and luminescent icicles.
Specks of sun penetrate the pointed tips,
Encouraging the figures to grow in length and width.
Downstairs, the quick strike of a stick match
Against a red, rough surface ignites
A kitchen candle marking the new day.
A gaze inward stirs the possibilities,
Encouraging small steps to health and becoming whole.
As the winter wind whips and howls outside,
The living flame caresses us, expands inside,
Unleashing an invitation to open up and to allow.
Quiet comes, and a gentle voice awaits,
Offering an opportunity to see that everything is grace.
Highlighted Events and Resources
You may wish to participate in some of these additional local, regional, and online events:
Tuesday Evening Webinars from the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University
A free webinar series is presented by the International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS) and the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union on the second Tuesday of each month. Upcoming topics include:
- Thomas Merton and The Cloud of Unknowing, April 13
- Merton and David Jones, Visionaries Both, May 11
- An Army That Sheds No Blood: Thomas Merton’s Response to War, June 8
To learn more or to register, please visit the ITMS website.
Online Events from Contemplative Outreach of Colorado
Colorado has long had a very active Contemplative Outreach chapter based in Denver. Their upcoming online offerings include:
- Introduction to the Welcoming Prayer, Saturday, April 10, 10:00am-1:00pm Central
- Mirabai Starr, Forgiving: The Act of Mercy, Saturday, March 20, 10:00am-1:00pm Central
- Martin Laird, Awakened Awareness, Contemplation in a Commodity Culture, Saturday, April 24,10:00am-1:00pm Central
To learn more about these and other offerings please visit the Contemplative Outreach of Colorado website and click on Online Offerings.
The Humanity of Thomas Merton and the Key to Grace for an Impossible World – Wednesday April 14 via Zoom
The Thomas Merton who lived as a contemplative monk studying, writing, and praying was also a man who could be impatient, rambunctious, charming, deceptive, in pain and in love. In other words, he was completely human and in the vulnerability of that messy humanity he most felt the grace of God. That humanity can take Merton beyond the realm of mystic/saint, making him more accessible to us so that through him we may learn how to reach for God in the midst of our own imperfections.
In this two-hour evening workshop, presented by In Via Lumen, author Sophfronia Scott considers this connection and, recognizing that so many of the issues of Merton’s time (race, peace, ambition, materialism, love) are, sometimes frustratingly so, still our issues today, will discuss how Merton’s work helps us to see through a lens of grace, allowing us to love the impossible world even as we seek to redeem it.
For further information and registration, please visit the In Via Lumen website.
Centering Prayer and Enneagram Workshops at Healing Gardens
Healing Gardens, the lovely, park-like contemplative center in St. Charles offers a number of activities, this spring and summer, including:
- Introductory Centering Prayer Workshop: Saturday, April 17, 8:45am-1:00pm via Zoom
- Silent Saturday Morning, Saturday, June 19, 9:00am-noon – Carve out sacred time for yourself to pray and reflect in a group setting. Morning will consist of two, 20 minute meditation periods; a guided meditation walk in nature; silent reflection time; journaling and optional sharing.
- Enneagram Workshop, Level 1: Saturday June 26, 8:45 to 11:30am and 12:30-2:30pm outdoors at Healing Gardens (via Zoom if inclement weather)
Please visit the Healing Gardens website for more information or to register. In addition, the Gardens will be open now for anyone who needs a Nature “fix.” To make arrangements, text 630-740-2597.
2021 Intensive and Post Intensive Retreats June 13-19 at the Siena Retreat Center, Racine Wisconsin
An Intensive Retreat is an opportunity to deepen the practice of Centering Prayer in an atmosphere of profound silence and community support. There are up to six 30-minute Centering Prayer periods daily, supported with viewing a selection of the Spiritual Journey video series by Fr. Thomas Keating. Private interviews with the retreat guides can also be scheduled. The Post-Intensive Retreat is offered for those who have previously taken part in an Intensive Retreat. It provides an opportunity to deepen the practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina. There are up to seven 30-minute periods of Centering Prayer daily. Participants observe Sacred Silence four days during the retreat.
This summer’s retreats are offered June 13-19 at the lovely Siena Retreat Center in Racine, 83 miles north of Chicago on the Lake Michigan shore. The retreat guides are Ann Koerner, CSA and Sandy Janowski. Ann is a Sister of St. Agnes and holds a Masters in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in Omaha NE. Since 1986 she has been a spiritual companion and retreat director. Sandy is a retired Social Worker, Addiction Counselor and Community College Adjunct Instructor. In 2009 she was commissioned by the Institute of Spiritual Companionship and has been a practitioner of Centering Prayer since 2001.
Click here to download more complete information about the retreats and a chance to register.
Centering Prayer Groups via Zoom
Here are four invitations to gather with Chicago-area Centering Prayer groups via Zoom. Listed below are the groups, times, and contact information.
- St. Clement’s Centering Prayer Group every Saturday 9:30-10:30am. Contact Bill Epperly at email@example.com
- St. Katharine Drexel Church every Tuesday 8:30-9:30am. Contact Lori Dressel at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Healing Gardens second Friday of each month, 10:30am-12:30pm. Also, Centering Prayer with Lectio Divina, last Friday of each month, 10:30am-11:30pm. Contact Deb Marqui at email@example.com or text/call 630-740-259.
- Permanent Zoom group (not associated with an in-person group) Tuesday 6:00 – 7:00pm. Contact Rose Magiera for link and phone number – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Epperly has also invited everyone to Interspiritual Sundays which gathers Sunday from 9:00-10:00am. n 2018. You may contact Bill at email@example.com and he’ll be happy to share more information with you.
(Other Centering Prayer groups may also wish to consider meeting online for now. If you need help in setting up, please contact Sandy Janowski: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Offerings in the Contemplative Outreach Meditation Chapel
The national website of our parent organization features an Online Meditation Chapel that is very easy to use and provides the opportunity to see, hear and join in silent prayer with others from all over the world. You must first register to attend the meetings in the Chapel. You can do that by using the calendar link. Once you know what chapel your desired meeting is in, use the chapel link.
Meditation Groups – Groups meet via Zoom at all hours of the day and night and are open to anyone. There is no cost/fee to attend, charging is prohibited. A friend writes: “I have been attending meditation in the virtual Keating Chapel and had a lovely experience. The facilitator was very good!” For further information, visit the calendar or chapel listing.
Healing Together: A Gathering of Consciousness – In silence we focus on an intention for peace and healing in 2020. The format is an opening prayer, a short reading, two 25-minute sessions of silent prayer with a short break in-between and closing prayer. These sessions are scheduled every Thursday from 11:00am to 12:00pm Central Time (US & Ca) in the Thomas Keating Chapel with Mary Lapham. You can contact Mary at email@example.com.
Please let us know about any additional events and resources you’re aware of. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave. It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation.
– Jack Kornfield
For a long time, I thought the truth had to mean only words, but it doesn’t. There are truths that are only communicated in silence. And you have to figure out when to use words and when to use silence, because the absolute truth is silent.
– Ram Dass
When you shift from belief to hypothesis, you live more humbly. When you shift from nouns to verbs, you see more clearly. When you shift from metaphysics to metaphor, you think more creatively and imagine more boldly. And when you do all these things, you free yourself from secondhand opinion and for firsthand knowing; a freedom essential if you are to become what you can be rather than conform to who you are told you must be. But how can you make these shifts? One way, though by no means THE way, is contemplative practice such as Centering Prayer.
– Rami Shapiro
Let me give you a wonderful Zen practice. Wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and laugh at yourself.
– Bernie Glassman
Please write in to contribute your ideas or to comment on any aspect of 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.