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The Living Wisdom Program

Contemplative Outreach Chicago presents Living Wisdom; a series of 4 full day workshops each dedicated to a theme of wisdom in the Christian Contemplative tradition

NOTE: The Living Wisdom Program is underway! Registration is now open for the second workshop in the series: Sacred Breath and Sacred Chant, which takes place on February 18. Registration for the third and fourth workshops will be opened up in late February and late March, respectively.  If you would like to be placed on a wait list for the third or fourth workshops, please contact Alan Krema:, 630-369-6624.

Explore the Wisdom tradition, in the lineage of Cynthia Bourgeault.

Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault

Based on the core practice of centering prayer and the teachings of Cynthia Bourgeault, the program will increase awareness of and openness to the divine presence within us through additional practices founded in the Wisdom tradition.

It’s not about right belief; it’s about right practice.

~ Cynthia Bourgeault

Wisdom describes a lineage of spiritual knowledge and practice that is principally concerned with transformation. It is not about knowing more, but about knowing more deeply, and can be recognized by an alert, present-moment awareness and a compassionate intelligence.

The spiritual practices of attention and surrender are the banks between which Wisdom flows. Wisdom teaching builds on a strong foundation of traditional Christian mystical teaching and contemplative practice, approaching them through the contemporary lenses of mindfulness, nondual awakening, and interspiritual dialogue.

The Living Wisdom Program

Four all-day Saturday workshops at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Mount Prospect, IL:

January 21, 2017: Wisdom Way of Knowing with Rev. Bill Redfield

February 18, 2017: Sacred Breath and Sacred Chant with Darlene Franz

March 18, 2017: The Welcoming Prayer with Jim McElroy

April 8, 2017: Wisdom of Mary Magdalene with Beth O’Brien

You are invited to register now for the full program of four workshops at a total cost of $175. After January 1, 2017, registration for individual workshops will be available at $50 each, if space for additional participants is available.

(Each day will begin at 9:00am and end at 4:30pm. Lunch will be provided.)

Questions? Please contact Alan Krema:, 630-369-6624

January 21: Wisdom Way of Knowing

What is it that we are offering to the universe through our prayer (and our developing active life in the world)? What if, besides just an expression of our own personal devotion, we had a deepened sense of where we are in the evolution of things and the purpose that Centering Prayer might be having in this “threshold moment” in which we are living? Might that not redouble our commitment to our Centering Prayer practice and deepen our understanding of how and why it is so critically important now?

We certainly seem to be at a tipping point in the unfolding of consciousness on our planet. Tradition says that, over the course of human history, the underground stream of Wisdom has come to the surface to assist humanity when the world is undergoing monumental changes or unusual challenges. Both seem to be true right now.

The Wisdom tradition has an essential contribution to make to our time. But access to Wisdom is unlike other bodies of knowledge; it is state-dependent. That is—rather than a body of information, theory, or doctrine—it is more a way of knowing. So, it must be practiced in order to be apprehended and understood.

In our day together we will have the opportunity to sample some of these Wisdom practices and better understand the methodology of Wisdom Schools. And then, setting all of this into a larger perspective, we will explore how and why both Centering Prayer and Wisdom practices can assist our human growth in the direction of integral wholeness. But more than just for us and for our own growth, it will be argued that this Wisdom work is for the benefit of greater humanity and perhaps the entire universe.

RedfieldRev. William Redfield is an ordained Episcopal priest and a licensed clinical social worker. Ordained in 1976, he spent the first half of his professional career as a group, family, and individual therapist in Maine. He has known Cynthia Bourgeault for over 25 years and has trained with her extensively in the Wisdom tradition, a lineage of spiritual transformation. Later Bill served Trinity Episcopal Church in Fayetteville for nearly twenty years. During this time he brought his passion for new forms of “Wisdom” spirituality and established “Wisdom House” as an outreach spiritual ministry for the greater community. Having retired from parish work nearly three years ago, Bill is now engaged in full time Wisdom work, mainly in the Northeast.

February 18: Sacred Breath and Sacred Chant

Explore contemplative chanting through guided group practice as a means of:

expanding attention and presence;
deepening embodied spiritual awareness;
freeing body, mind, and emotions from habitual ‘blocked’ energies and conditioned attitudes.

Whether you’re a confident singer or a hesitant one, a person who’s always enjoyed singing in choir, or one who hopes no-one will hear you, yet longs to join the music, this workshop will bring you closer to your true voice.

Anyone seeking a deeper, more embodied spirituality, will have the opportunity to discover, in a supportive group setting, how sacred chanting can enliven your practice of prayer and meditation, and enrich its outward expression in service to the world.

Our practice together will draw from the chants of Taize, the ancient tradition of psalm antiphons, and a growing body of newly-composed Christian interspiritual chant being used in Wisdom Schools worldwide. Prior experience or training in singing may enrich the group experience, but is absolutely not necessary for participation, and may even get in the way.

darleneDarlene Franz, D.M.A., is a freelance oboist, singer, music educator, and chant composer residing in Seattle Washington. Her chants are used in Wisdom Schools throughout the United States and beyond. She facilitates sacred chanting and chant workshops in the Pacific Northwest. One of Cynthia Borgeaut’s colleagues in the Sacred Chanting work of Wisdom Schools, Darlene is “a master at spiritual inquiry and healing. Recordings of a sampling of her work may be found at

March 18: The Welcoming Prayer

The Welcoming Prayer is a method of consenting to God’s presence and action in our physical and emotional reactions to events and situations in daily life. The purpose of the Welcoming Prayer is to deepen our relationship with God through consenting in the ordinary activities of our day. The Welcoming Prayer helps to dismantle the emotional programs of the false-self system and to heal the wounds of a lifetime by addressing them where they are stored — in the body. It contributes to the process of spiritual transformation initiated in Centering Prayer.

Jim McIlroyJim McElroy has been practicing Centering Prayer since 1996 and has been a commissioned presenter since 2002. Jim has been on the leadership team of 12-Step Outreach since its formation in 2005 and is especially interested in teaching Contemplative Prayer to the recovery community as part of the 12-Steps. He is a former coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of St. Louis and is a Living Flame presenter. Jim is also on the faculty of the Welcoming Prayer for Contemplative Outreach. He works as an Account Executive and part time therapist at a treatment center. He lives with his family in St. Louis, Missouri and has a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling.

April 8: Wisdom of Mary Magdalene

This workshop will explore Mary Magdalene’s unwavering presence and devotion throughout the Paschal Mystery – and how conscious love can be a transforming force in our own lives as well. A contemplative rhythm will be held throughout the day: moving between meditative silence, sacred chanting, conscious work, teaching, and reflective dialogue.

Beth O'BrianBeth O’Brien, founder of Contemplative Presence (March, 2015), is a Benedictine Oblate of Holy Wisdom Ecumenical Monastery, spiritual director, and meditation teacher. A long time Centering Prayer practitioner, Beth has been a student of Cynthia Bourgeault and now carries forth the Wisdom lineage in gratitude.Beth interests include the rekindling of the Christian contemplative tradition, the mystical tradition at the heart of the world’s major religions, interSpiritual dialogue, and carrying compassion out into the world. Inspired by Teilhard de Chardin’s writings on human energy and convergence, she continues to seek an ever-depening knowing within an evolutionary and incarnational (embodied) spirituality.Living on the outskirts of Madison, WI, Beth is married and the mother of two young adult daughters. MA education, MA Religious Studies.


NOTE: Registration is now open for the remaining two Living Wisdom Workshops: The Welcoming Prayer (March 18) and The Wisdom of Mary Magdalene (April 8).


Bookings are closed for this event.

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