With Labor Day behind us, autumn begins, and our thoughts turn to Contemplative Outreach Chicago’s Eighth Annual One-Day Fall Workshop, coming up on November 2. This issue of Spirit Journal includes articles by three session-leaders about their plans for the Workshop, as well as a link to similar articles about the other sessions, which were published in last month’s newsletter.
Chicago chapter coordinator Alan Krema shares his thoughts on the topic of Engaging Our Place in Society from the Transformative Place of Contemplative Practice. This topic is relevant to our 2020 Winter Retreat Enter the Chaos, to a one-day workshop on the wisdom of Howard Thurman that is being planned for next May, and to several upcoming events on the history of race relations and the hope for racial reconciliation in Chicago.
We announce with mixed feelings that the capacity limit has been reached and therefore registration has ended for Living Flame program, which begins in October and continues through April 2020. The enthusiastic response to this offering has been great, but we wish there was room for everyone who might like to participate.
As always, we call your attention to several worthwhile contemplative events sponsored by others that are coming up soon in our region, and share several brief Insights, this month from Rami Shapiro, Walt Whitman, Aldous Huxley and Howard Thurman.
Please give us your input about any aspect of Spirit Journal by emailing the editor, using the address provided at the end of the newsletter. We love hearing from readers!
Annual Fall Workshop November 2: More Information from Session-Leaders
Registration continues for our Eighth Annual Fall Workshop, which will take place on Saturday November 2nd in Lisle. For complete program information or to register, please visit the event page.
We’ve invited all the leaders of the various Fall Workshop sessions to create descriptions of what their workshops will be like and what they hope you will take away. (These supplement the session-descriptions that are already available on the website.) We published three leader’s descriptions last month (see below) and we’re publishing three more in this issue.
Introductory Workshop Morning 1A and Afternoon 1B: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps
by JoAnn Sturm and Jim McElroy
For those practicing a 12-step program, the simple yet powerful method of Centering Prayer when used as an 11th step practice opens one to a deeper spiritual awakening. This Introductory Workshop will help those searching for emotional and spiritual sobriety through the 12 Steps. The workshop will include Prayer as a Relationship, the Method of Centering Prayer, Thoughts and Use of the Sacred Word and Deepening our Relationship with God.
Whether you’re new to the 12 Steps or you have years of recovery, this daily practice can help you improve your conscious contact with your Higher Power.
Morning Workshop 2A: Why Ritual? God’s Gift to Humanity
by Paula Pryce
Being the youngest in my family, I would wake the earliest. The dawn light sometimes enticed me outdoors where I would stand beneath the witch hazel, listening closely to the silent hum of the garden. I swear I could feel the flow of the living world around me. That kind of wakefulness – the focus of small children when they are absorbed and alert – is the stuff that makes us human.
As I grew, I realized that adults found other ways to listen, and my awareness turned to how we craft ritual in an effort to attend to all that is invisible, subtle, unapproachable, and vast. I have since spent my life trying to understand humanity’s extraordinary gift of honing attention to the divine through ritual and intentional living. Our religious imagination and ritual creativity, though greatly diverse from people to people, nevertheless binds us through a common desire for the hidden, the unknown, and the luminous.
Afternoon Workshop 3B: Centering Prayer and Spiritual Psychology
by Kess Frey
I’d like this workshop to be somewhat interactive, so we may focus on the interests and needs of those who are present. To this end, choices will be offered and questions welcomed. There are a variety of possibilities as to what may be addressed in our limited timeframe. My hope is that, with God’s help, we may all be open to receive and experience a transmission of inspirational energy from the Holy Spirit on the intuitive level within the context of this workshop. Here are some of the basic ideas we’ll be working with as pointers to help us access our intuitive level:
In my view, spiritual psychology is grounded in the dynamic two-way relationship we all have with God – the Ultimate Mystery and Ultimate Reality of what is. Perhaps the greatest biblical clue to the Mystery of God is simply, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). In the workshop, we’ll explore some of the deep and important implications of this key teaching, one of which is that ultimately our relationship to love is our relationship to God. Another simple but profound statement regarding the mystery of the human soul is found in Genesis 1:26-27 where we’re told that each of us is created “male and female” in God’s “image and likeness.” This is a great clue to the mystery of our selves. The mysteries of God (Divine Love), our selves (human nature), and the Divine Relationship form the working basis of spiritual psychology.
Engaging Our Place in Society from the Transformative Place of Contemplative Practice: Our 2020 Winter Retreat and a Spring One-Day Workshop on the Wisdom of Howard Thurman
by Alan Krema
I would like to offer you the following reflection from the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue (ICCD), written by Nancy Sylvester:
August 2019 Reflection:
The August doldrums, defined as a time of low spirits or a feeling of depression, are here. I seem to be experiencing this as I listen to the continual and increasingly reactive rhetoric of our president. The unending campaign coverage (knowing the first primaries and caucuses are months away). The continued restrictions on immigrants and on women’s health choices. The reluctance to address the climate crisis with the urgency it needs.
Imagine my surprise when an unexpected encounter sliced through this atmospheric pressure within me and released a surge of fresh air and energy.
His Uber job is full time. He isn’t interested in buying lots of material things but does want to get more than $15 an hour, which driving for Uber lets him achieve. He told me about a friend of his who has been working for a motel chain for more than four years. She doesn’t even make $15 an hour; they are hiring in new people at a higher rate but won’t give her a raise or benefits — which bothers him greatly.
He has a bachelor’s degree that put him $80,000 into debt and is one of the reasons he won’t take a job that doesn’t pay at least $15 an hour. For money and out of respect for himself.
He likes Jesus and began to talk about how Jesus was influenced by the Near East and that his preaching and teaching were quite fine, embracing everyone and teaching peace. He used to like to debate religion in college, especially with the fundamentalists. He liked pointing out to them various discrepancies between what they said the Bible taught and what history or science taught.
The Living Flame Program, Now Fully Booked, Starts October 12
The capacity limit has been reached for the Living Flame Program, and registration is now closed. Thanks to all who signed up to take part! We look forward to gathering for the first of seven workshops on October 12. Complete information about the Living Flame program is available on the event page.
Other Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences
Here are several other contemplative activities that may be of interest to you:
A Dreamers Workshop – September 28 in Old Town
Have you wondered what the images and stories in your dreams mean? Dreams are mentioned throughout the Bible, and have been a spiritual practice that appears throughout the ancient world. It is believed that dreams come to us for our health and wholeness, but what if we don’t understand what they are saying to us?
You are invited to explore the dream world in A Dreamers Workshop, September 28, 10:00am-12:30pm, St. Michael’s Parish Center Library,1711 N. Cleveland Avenue, Chicago. The workshop will be facilitated by Susan Cass and Jeff Ediger, who have both spent years studying and learning about dreams and co-facilitate a bi-weekly dream group at St. Michael’s.
A Dreamers Workshop will explore the symbolic language of dreams, discover how to dream more and recall your dreams, as well as work a dream or two in an interactive group process. Please come with a recent dream written down. The maximum number of participants is limited, and pre-registration is required ($15 suggested donation).
For questions or to register, please email email@example.com
Healing Gardens Autumn Programs Include Silent Saturday and an Enneagram Workshop
Many contemplative activities take place at Healing Gardens at Stonehill Farm in St. Charles. You are invited to enjoy two acres of perennial gardens in a quiet wooded setting, including the following:
Level 2 Enneagram Workshop, Saturday October 12, 8:45am-3:30pm
Silent Saturday, October 19, 9:00am – noon
For more information and registration, please visit the Healing Gardens website.
Merton Society Meeting on October 20: “The Possibilities and Challenges of Aging”
The International Thomas Merton Society is sponsoring a discussion on “The Possibilities and Challenges of Aging” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, in the Rectory Assembly of Immaculate Conception Parish, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago. Barbara Carlo will lead the discussion.
“We are all living longer lives. Aging well means we need to grow spiritually to meet the challenges,” says Barbara. She will share her insights on positive aging and the hard challenges we face as we age from her 25 years of working with the elderly. Barbara’s background in Pastoral Studies and dementia care has helped her focus on how aging and end-of-life issues can be lived with courage, faith and hope.
Barbara is a retiree of Catholic Charities of Chicago. She worked as a director of Senior Service for 25 years, specializing in Adult Day Services and Dementia Care Mapping. She has been a member of the Chicago Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society for 30 years. , and we are very grateful for her willingness to share her insights with us.
Feel free to bring a friend! No charge, free will donations accepted.
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 — firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The world cannot be other than it is, because there is nothing other for it to be.
– Rami Shapiro
What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of you, passing under the seas? Are all nations communing? Is there going to be but one heart to the globe?
– Walt Whitman
Human life is one and all humans are members of one another. And this insight is spiritual and it is the hard core of religious experience.
– Howard Thurman
The politics of those whose goal is beyond time are always pacific; it is the idolaters of past and future, of reactionary memory and Utopian dream, who do the persecuting and make the wars.
– Aldous Huxley
As always, you are 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 email@example.com.