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Spirit Journal – December 2017

Preview

Merry Christmas!

Our December issue of Spirit Journal announces the continuation of our Living Wisdom Program in 2018 – with all-day Saturday workshops exploring three facets of the Wisdom tradition.  It also features an in-depth reflection on the 2018 Winter Weekend Retreat, written by Alan Krema, who will serve as the retreat guide.

In addition, we inform you about several other upcoming contemplative activities and events, locally and further afield.  Christmas Insights come from Calvin Coolidge, G.K. Chesterton, Dale Evans, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Please help us make Spirit Journal an active forum for the members and friends of Contemplative Outreach – Chicago.  We invite your active participation: use the email address provided at the end to send in your responses, ideas and insights.  We love hearing from you!

New Living Wisdom Series Begins in February – Registration Open

A new series of workshops in 2018 will continue our exploration of the Wisdom Tradition, in the lineage of Cynthia Bourgeault.

Contemplative Outreach Chicago presents a new series of three full day workshops, each dedicated to a theme of wisdom in the Christian contemplative tradition.  The vision of this program is to deepen the contemplative wisdom in each participant.

The program consists of three Saturday workshops at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Mount Prospect, Illinois:

February 17:        G.I. Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way, with David Orth

March 24:             Spirituality from the Ground Up, with Jeff Ediger

April 14:               Wisdom of the Gospel of Thomas, with Alan Krema

For complete information and a chance to register, please visit the event page or download this brochure.

A Reflection on the Winter Weekend Retreat

by Alan Krema

(Note: The 2018 Winter Weekend Retreat will take place February 9-11, 2018, at the Portiuncula retreat center in Frankfort, Illinois.  The theme is From the Mind to the Heart . . . an exploration of intuitive wisdom on the spiritual journey.  Please visit the event page for further information and a chance to register.  The following reflection by Alan Krema, who will lead the retreat, is offered as a thought-starter for those who may be thinking about attending.)

Recall the words of Thomas Merton: 

When I am devoid of thought I enter into the cloud of unknowing in which mind is pure but by no means blank, passive, or inactive.  Emptiness is also a kind of fullness.  Stillness is not dead or inert.

In me, Merton’s words raise important questions: How much kenosis?  What does it mean to empty ourselves?  How do we empty but not to nothing, not to passiveness, not to blank or dead or inert?  How much ego is too much or too little? 

These are questions we all encounter in Centering Prayer practice.  How still can I be?  How quiet?  How silent?

The questions expose our cultural upbringing.   We have a need to be something, to know that we are on the right path, and to differentiate our state of being into something we know is the right way, the good vs. the bad.  We are embedded in the spiritual life of attaining a sense of something, some higher being.  The mind has thoughts, and we all create a narrative which defines our self, derived from our thoughts.

We find ourselves in a body, which is in constant motion. The body is constant energy in motion, beginning with the energy center of heart beat, blood flow, and the lungs’ exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen.    We cannot rest in this center of energy as a separate self.  We cannot divorce our inmost being from the gift of flesh and blood that we are.  We cannot be in this body without the connection to air, water, earth.  As we sit in stillness we are in union with the larger body of which we are a part.

Upcoming Events, Retreats, and Conferences

Here are some upcoming contemplative activities that may be of interest:

Ongoing Centering Prayer “11th Step” Programs in Northfield and 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, two new Centering Prayer-based 11th step groups have formed.  One meets on Sundays, 4:30-5:15, at 319 Waukegan Road in Northfield.  For more information, please contact Leonette Kaluzny – leonettekaluzny@aol.com.

Another Centering Prayer 11th step program 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 — stuffer1@ameritech.net.)

Living Flame Program Offered January – November in Indianapolis

The seven-part Living Flame program will be offered at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis on seven Saturdays from January-November 2018.

Living Flame is a series of seven, full-day gatherings spread over the course of one year. Each of the seven days includes periods of prayer, and discussion, but the heart of each day’s program will be a presentation by a nationally recognized Contemplative Outreach teacher on a specific aspect of the practice of Centering Prayer. Marilyn Webb, the National Service Team Leader of the Living Flame Program describes this panel of presenters as “excellent speakers who have a history of dedication to Centering Prayer and Contemplative Outreach.”

Living Flame participants will learn more about the background needed to support and enrich a faithful practice of Centering Prayer. They will develop a better understanding of the purification process and the benefits of divine therapy. They will have the opportunity to both give and receive spiritual companionship. They will also learn how to discern when psychological skills can be useful tools.

For further information, download the brochure or contact Linda Farley lleefarley@aol.com  or 317-430-3822.  Attendance at the Living Flame is limited. If you would like to participate in this program, please submit the mail-in registration form as soon as possible.

Merton Society’s Series of Sunday Afternoon Programs Continues in January

All of the Merton Society presentations are held Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Rectory Assembly of Immaculate Conception Parish, 7211 W. Talcott, Chicago. Signs with arrows indicating “Merton Lecture” will be posted.

On January 21, 2018, the Merton Society will be showing the film In Pursuit of Silence, a meditative exploration of our relationship with silence, sound and the impact of noise on our lives. No special reading or background is required for any of these Merton Society events, which are open to the public. Admission is a freewill offering. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call Mike Brennan at 773-447-3989. RSVPs to cc.itms@gmail.com are welcome, but not required.

The Seven Mansions of the Interior Castle – February 2-4 at the Marianist Retreat Center Near St. Louis

Susan Komis

Interior Castle is one of the most celebrated books on mystical theology in existence.  Join Susan Komis for a special retreat weekend, offering sacred space and time to explore the Seven Mansions of Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle.  Teresa is one of Christianity’s great mystics and teachers.  The Seven Mansions of the Interior Castle is her final work and one of the most profound literary works on contemplation and experiential mysticism.

Prayer stood at the center of Teresa’s teaching.  Her fidelity to prayer was a means of deepening her intimate relationship with God.  She considered a life of prayer in terms of love. This retreat will reflect on the light of Teresa’s timeless insights into the human soul, its journey towards God, and how Teresa’s teaching is relevant to our personal contemporary spiritual journey today.

Susan Komis is the former Director of Chapter Programs and Services of Contemplative Outreach and continues to serve as a commissioned presenter and retreat director.  She is a Pastoral Minister and has been active in adult faith development, spiritual direction and inter-spiritual dialogue.

Click here for more complete information and a chance to register.

Three Midwest Wisdom Schools in Dubuque Iowa, the First in February

If you are longing to go deeper in your Centering Prayer practice, and perhaps yearning for a community of like-hearted seekers, you are invited to participate in one or more Wisdom Schools being offered next year at the Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque:

February 5-8, 2018 – Mary Magdalene as Unitive Wisdom 

August 6-9, 2018 – Surrendering Into Presence (Centering Prayer and Non-duality)

Oct 15-18, 2018 – Placing Our Mind in Our Heart (Introductory Level Wisdom School, Part A)

All of these Wisdom Schools will be led by Beth O’Brien, Benedictine oblate and Founder of Contemplative Presence.  A long-time Centering Prayer practitioner, Beth has been a direct student of Cynthia Bourgeault.  In 2014, she received Cynthia’s blessing to teach and carry forth the Wisdom lineage.  Beth led a one-day workshop on Mary Magdalene that was part of Contemplative Outreach – Chicago’s Living Wisdom Series earlier in 2017.  For more information & registration, please visit the Contemplative Presence website.

Secure Your Place at Next Spring’s Mega Wisdom School in North Carolina

Cynthia Borgeault

The next “Mega” Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault will take place Sunday, March 11 – Friday, March 16, 2018 at Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina.

Entitled Introductory Wisdom School Part B: The Divine Exchange, the retreat will cover the Wisdom metaphysical map, the Divine Exchange, Vertical Exchange, Reciprocal Feeding, the Jesus teachings based in exchange, an introduction to Trinitarian metaphysics and selections from the Gospel of Thomas.  For complete information, visit the Wisdom Way of Knowing website.

“Cynthia’s Wisdom School events, including the larger-capacity “mega” retreats, always fill up,” says Alan Krema, Contemplative Outreach Chicago Coordinator, who will be assisting as a facilitator at the retreat. “It isn’t necessary to have experienced the Wisdom School Part A to participate in and benefit from Part B, but it is suggested that participants have an established Centering Prayer or meditation practice.”

If you are interested in attending or have any questions about the Wisdom School, please email Alan at coordinator@centeringprayerchicago.org.

Insights

Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world. 

– Calvin Coolidge

Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.

– G.K. Chesterton

Christmas, my child, is love in action.

– Dale Evans

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.

– Laura Ingalls Wilder

Your Turn

Please write in to comment on or add to any of the items in this month’s newsletter.  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 are invited to contribute by emailing the newsletter editor at news@centeringprayerchicago.org.

Spirit Journal – November 2017

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This issue announces our 2018 Winter Weekend Retreat, looks back on the recent 2017 Fall Workshop, provides several worthwhile video links, alerts you to other events of interest, and wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!  November Insights come from Meister Eckhart, Kahlil Gibran, Thomas Merton and A.A. Milne.

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Spirit Journal – October 2017

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This issue alerts you that we’ve had to change one of the topics scheduled for the Sixth Annual One-Day Fall Workshop, which is coming up in less than two weeks: Saturday, November 4 in Lisle.  Unfortunately, one of the presenters had to withdraw due to illness; see below for a description of the excellent replacement session we’ve arranged.

This issue also includes an interesting reminiscence by Rabbi Rami Shapiro about the beginning of his working relationship with Fr. Thomas Keating, and a report from Alan Krema about his experiences at the 2017 Contemplative Outreach International Conference.  As usual, we also draw your attention to various upcoming activities, events, retreats, and conferences.

October Insights come from Alan Watts, Karen Armstrong, Thomas Keating, and Thomas Merton.

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Spirit Journal – September 2017

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Happy Peace Day Chicago!

The Sixth Annual One-Day Fall Workshop is only six weeks away on November 4.  To help you get ready, this issue features personal reflections from two more of the people who will be leading workshop sessions, providing insight on the topics they plan to cover.  (For similar background on the other two workshop sessions, see last month’s Spirit Journal.)

We also let you know about other upcoming activities, events, retreats, and conferences, and draw your attention to God is Love, a major new  work from Thomas Keating.  September Insights come from Mahatma Ghandi, Thomas Keating, Therese of Lisieux and Anne Lamott.

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Spirit Journal – August 2017

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To help you get ready for the Sixth Annual One-Day Fall Workshop coming up on November 4, this issue features personal reflections from three of the people who will be leading workshop sessions, providing insight on the topics they plan to cover.  Next month, we will provide similar background on the other two workshop sessions.

As usual, we also call your attention to a range of other upcoming activities, events, retreats, and conferences you may wish to attend.  August Insights come from Joseph Campbell, Richard Rohr, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and John Muir.

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Spirit Journal – July 2017

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This issue fills in the details on the topics planned for our Sixth Annual One-Day Fall Workshop.  Discounted early bird registration for the Fall Workshop is available through July 31 only, so there is just a little more time to plan ahead and save.

Also featured in this month’s issue: Alan Krema offers a reflection on “Conscious Work” as a key part of the Wisdom journey, and asks for your feedback on an idea for taking the next step in our evolving Living Wisdom program.

As usual, we call your attention to a number of upcoming activities, events, retreats, and conferences you may wish to attend.  It’s wonderful to see how this list is expanding over time as interest in contemplative topics grows across our region and beyond.  July’s Insights come from Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Rabindranath Tagore.

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Spirit Journal – June 2017

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This issue begins with an invitation to the eight-day Intensive and Post-Intensive Retreats coming up soon in August at the Portiuncula Center; then we offer an advance opportunity to  regisiter – with an “early bird” discount – for our sixth annual One-Day Fall Workshop on November 4.

There’s an article by Chicago Coordinator Al Krema about the activities of our volunteer “circle of service,” with an invitation for you to get involved, and news about a new AA program in Chicago that is using Centering prayer as the “11th step.”

We call your attention to a range of upcoming summer events, retreats, and conferences you may wish to attend, and suggest that you plan now if you are interested in taking part in a weeklong Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault in North Carolina next March.  June Insights come from Samuel Johnson, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry David Thoreau, and Rumi.

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Spirit Journal – May 2017

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Our late-May, pre-summer issue begins with an invitation to the Intensive and Post-Intensive Retreats coming up in August; then we share several participants’ personal reflections on the recent Cloud of Unknowing Retreat with Father William Meninger.

We invite you to consider participating in a range of upcoming summer events, retreats, and conferences,  and  offer a link to Contemplative Outreach’s June national newsletter, which includes a valuable summary of our organization’s revised and updated vision.  This month’s Insights come from Rami Shapiro, Ram Dass, Rachel Carson and Patti Smith.

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Spirit Journal – April 2017

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This month, we begin by providing further information on the Intensive and Post-Intensive Retreats planned for August; then we share one participant’s reflections on the four completed workshops of the Living Wisdom program.

We alert you to upcoming events that focus on Christian Meditation, the Tree of Life, the Enneagram, and Centering Prayer.  There is an item about a new Thomas Keating video series and Insights from Neem Karoli Baba, Thomas Keating, Mahatma Ghandi, and David Richo.

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Spirit Journal – February 2017

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This month, we start off with an item written by Chicago chapter coordinator Alan Krema, reflecting on the ancient Wisdom tradition, which is the focus of our ongoing Living Wisdom series of Saturday workshops.

Next, we provide updates on upcoming events, including May’s Cloud of Unknowing Retreat with Father William Meninger and the Eight-Day Intensive/Post-Intensive Retreat coming up this August.  We also highlight upcoming events at Healing Gardens in St. Charles and inform you about a range of other contemplative opportunities – local, regional, and nationwide.  This issue also includes a link to Parabola, an online and print magazine that may be of interest to you, and Insights from Alan Watts, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, and James Finley.

We’d be delighted to have your help in making Spirit Journal a valuable resource and forum for the members and friends of Contemplative Outreach – Chicago.  Please use the email address provided at the end to send in your ideas and insights.

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