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Spirit Journal – November 2016

Preview

In this issue: We take a glance back at the wonderful Annual Fall Workshop many of you attended last month and we look ahead to let you know about several upcoming retreats and workshops.  We share a beautiful new Thanksgiving Prayer written by one of the chaplains at St. Alexius Medical Center, call your attention to an online offering from the national organization of Contemplative Outreach, and offer Insights from Thich Nhat Hanh, Neem Karoli Baba, Desmond Tutu, and Leonard Cohen.

Please don’t forget to give us your input and ideas for future editions of Spirit Journal: use the e-mail address at the end to send your contributions and feedback.

A Day of Friendship and Spiritual Exploration: Reflections on the Fifth Annual Fall One-Day Workshop

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On October 15, we gathered at Benedictine University for Contemplative Outreach-Chicago’s Annual Fall One-Day Workshop.  This inspiring event included more than 170 participants and gave us a chance to meet one another, build community, and learn things that can help us move toward deeper spiritual awareness.

More than 50 people took part in all-day Introductory Centering Prayer Workshops, while others chose to participate in half-day sessions on The Wisdom Way of Knowing, The Power of Formative Thought, The Transformative Power of Dreams, and Integral Insights.  Ratings and feedback on all of the sessions were very positive – here are a few sample comments:

“Very compelling, compassionate, knowledgeable and witty instructor.  Excellent!  Better than I ever expected.”

“You are a lovely soul.  This was my first exposure to Centering Prayer and I feel blessed to have been opened to it.”

“Loved the experiences/practical flow of the talk – gaining wisdom from the group.”

“Really appreciated the humor and insights.”

“The presentation was clear and uplifting.  It inspired me and made the ‘Wisdom Way’ a very exciting and meaningful experience.”

We thank everyone who participated in and contributed to this event.  If you missed it, don’t worry — planning for next year’s Fall Workshop is already underway!

Plan Now: Three Great Programs Are Coming Up in the Next Three Months

Cold weather is on the way, but let’s not hibernate — here are three contemplative activities that will add spiritual warmth to the winter months:

Lectio Divina Immersion – December 9-12, Racine Wisconsin

This retreat, offered by Contemplative Outreach of Southeast Wisconsin, will provide a deeper understanding of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the scriptures. The four moments of the prayer will be explored as expressions of the four senses of scripture, namely, the literal, moral, allegorical, and unitive sense.

The setting for this weekend retreat is the Sienna Retreat Center, located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.   The retreat will include periods of Centering Prayer, presentations, time for personal reflection, and an opportunity for a Catholic liturgy on Sunday. As a prerequisite, regular practice of Lectio Divina is preferred. To learn more, download the retreat brochure/registration form.

The Living Wisdom Program Begins in January 2017

Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault

Starting in early 2017, Contemplative Outreach Chicago will present a new series of 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. 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.

The Living Wisdom program will include four full-day Saturday workshops, one per month, January-April; the specific dates are January 21, February 18, March 18, and April 8.  Look to our website now for more information and an opportunity to register for the Living Wisdom Program.

Coming in February 2017: The Winter Weekend Retreat

Our annual Winter Weekend Retreat will once again be led by the Reverend Shawn Kafader, February 24-27, 2017 at the Portiuncula Center in Frankfurt Illinois.

The retreat theme is Personal Reflections on the Spiritual Journey, exploring the classic stages of the spiritual journey as reformed by Thomas Merton. Those present will be offered opportunities to reflect on the people, places and events that have served as personal invitations for spiritual transformation, fostering a grateful heart of thanks toward God.  See our website for more information and an opportunity to register for the Winter Weekend Retreat.

Lumen Divina: A Virtual Retreat for Advent Starts November 25

Henryk Kowalewski

The national Contemplative Outreach organization offers an online retreat for Advent — a contemplative engagement with Scripture, art and music, as well as the teachings of Fr. Thomas Keating and other mystical writers, to explore the great themes of this season that inform and enrich the contemplative life: Wisdom, Light, Unity, Beauty, and Incarnation.

Participants will practice Lectio Divina — quiet, receptive reflection using Scripture — as well as Visio Divina with art images and Musica Divina with various musical selections.  These practices awaken our whole being and invite inner stillness and deep listening for how the Spirit is speaking and moving in our personal experience and journey.  Click here to find out more.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Chris Moore serves as a chaplain at the St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.  Recently, while walking in nature following a period of Centering Prayer, she was inspired to write this prayer of gratitude and to share it with her co-workers at the hospital as a Thanksgiving offering.  We hope that Chris’s thoughtful words will add depth and meaning to your appreciation of Thanksgiving, as well.

Dear God,

It is with heartfelt gratitude and thankfulness that we ask for Blessings this day.

You have put us in positions of trust to help, heal and comfort through our hands and hearts that are the human touch of your love.  May we bring hope, joy and compassion to all we meet and care for.

We give you thanks for our work, our co-workers and our families.

May we never be far from your Grace and Mercy.

Amen

Insights

 When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

 A suffering man is higher than God.  Everyone should help him.

– Neem Karoli Baba

 My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.

– Desmond Tutu

If it be your will / That a voice be true / From this broken hill / I will sing to you / From this broken hill / All your praises they shall ring / If it be your will / To let me sing.

– Leonard Cohen

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.

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