Contemplative Trove: Sharing Opportunities in March and April

Photo credit: Sandy Reich

By Melanie P. Moore, et. al.

This Contemplative Trove is a full one! Monthly, we publish a listing of upcoming contemplative and spiritual opportunities recommended by folks here at The Abbey. Many of us—especially during the pandemic—floundered around looking for community and deep engagement with other pilgrims on the spiritual path. Here we share what we’ve found, hoping you might find some of it helpful on your journey. We’ve included “Comments” on each listing detailing what we as participants have liked. If you know of something coming up in April or May and would like to have it listed here, please email the information as shown below to by March 15 to be included in the post at the end of March. Please note that all times are listed in Central Time.

March 2023

The Mystery of Death: A Holy Isle Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault

Dates and Times: Available March 1, 2023
Registration: Open
Cost: $125
Frequency: Self-paced
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: If you’re looking for an alternative pathway through Lent, Wisdom Waypoints is pleased to announce the release of “The Mystery of Death,” Cynthia’s teaching on Ladislaus Boros’s profound mystical text, recorded live in June 2022 on Holy Isle, in the Scottish Hebrides, and offering new windows into the teaching not aired before. The course includes more than 10 hours of video and audio content, slightly edited for technical clarity but preserving both the content and the flavor of the remarkable original event. 
Comments:  A lot of our discussions at The Abbey have included aspects of grief and sometimes death, especially with reading the Frank Ostaseski book, The Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. This Wisdom School is an opportunity to explore some of these aspects of the spiritual path.

Mary Magdalene:  Apostle to our Own Times

Dates and Times: Feb. 8 – March 21, 2023
Registration: Open
Cost: $120
Frequency: Weekly topics, self-paced
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: Online, each week students will explore a new topic of study through an introduction (including an inner task and chant for the week), teaching material, a contemplative practice, and student discussions. Students can progress through each week at their own pace.
Recording Available: Yes, during the course and for four weeks after the course
Description: Mary Magdalene is one of Christianity’s most courageous women and an important disciple of Jesus who truly embodied his non-dualistic approach and deep understanding of the value of the feminine. Magdalene is commonly misunderstood or even overlooked, but who was this woman who earned the title “Apostle to the Apostles”? While history has often portrayed her—incorrectly—as a prostitute, there is much to discover about this woman who walked so closely with Jesus. This course will explore what her life and example can teach us about the sacrament of conscious love at the heart of the Gospel mystery. Peeling away centuries of erroneous speculation and conjecture about Mary Magdalene, Cynthia Bourgeault correctly focuses on how Mary Magdalene, above anyone else, understood and lived what Jesus taught.
Learning Objectives include: Cultivating a depth of love in your daily life through reflection and engagement with contemplative teachings and practices, expanding your awareness of Mary Magdalene and what she reveals about the nature of conscious love, developing your contemplative practice to engage and embody these teachings, and connecting with other spiritual seekers
Comments: Mary Magdalene and feminine spirituality have been meaningful topics for many of us at The Abbey. We continue exploring this particular topic collectively and individually—last fall we read Mirabi Starr’s Wild Mercy, and one of us (Melanie) did a Magdalene pilgrimage in France last summer. This course will be available again in the summer of 2023.

Which Way to Happiness? ‘Metanoia’ and the Divine Therapy 

Date and Time: Saturday, March 4, 9 a.m. – noon
Registration: RSVP required, from link on this page
Cost: Free
Frequency: One day
Duration: 3 hours
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes, through March 19, 2023
Description: Our Centering Prayer practice is an invitation to re-examine and re-order our relationship to what Father Thomas Keating called our emotional programs for happiness. Whether this transformational work, also known as the “divine therapy,” happens to us in our prayer time, or in times around the prayer is both evidenced by our fruits and a complete mystery. In this season of Lent, it is good to consider areas of our lives that need re-ordering. In the Greek, we understand repentance to be Metanoia  – to change one’s mind, to change the way we think, and to change the way we see. Father Keating lovingly framed the invitation or call to repentance in the form of a very personal question – “Will you kindly change the direction in which you are looking for happiness?” On this day of quiet prayer and Lenten reflection, let us examine our response to this gentle invitation of Jesus together through the practices of Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, and gentle examen.
Comments: This overlaps with the United Day in Prayer, which is a contemplative outreach offering. Led by Colleen Thomas, who often leads Centering Prayer groups for folks in the 40ish age group. This is a program of the Contemplative Outreach San Antonio (COSA)/Oblate School of Theology.

Immortal Diamond, featuring Richard Rohr

Dates and Times: March 8 – May 10
Registration: Open now, register here
Cost: $120, purchase of Immortal Diamond book not included in registration
Frequency: Self-paced; Students should expect to invest 4–6 hours of work each week on course material, reading assignments, online discussions with other students, and time for personal reflection.
Duration: 10 weeks
Format: Online
Recording Available: During the course and for four weeks after the course only.
Description: A 10-week online course exploring the True Self and the False Self, based on Richard Rohr’s book, Immortal Diamond. Learn to “die before we die” and discover how the promise of resurrection is true for each of us—right now. “Immortal Diamond” is an opportunity to mine for the real you that has been there all along, hidden under the trappings of ego and False Self. As Richard Rohr writes, “Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had.” We need ego to help us function, succeed, and belong. But if we let it stay in charge, ego stands in the way of living freely and authentically, from our God-given identity and calling. We are called to “die before we die,” to discover that the promise of resurrection is true for each of us, now. This course will deepen your understanding of the True Self, what it means to die before you die, resurrection, and the transformative journey. Rediscover your forgotten Self that can never be destroyed—only transformed to live in eternal Love.
Comments:  We like Richard Rohr’s teaching and the CAC. The format is flexible to accommodate participation even for busy people.

Half- and Full-Day Centering Prayer Retreats

Dates and Times: Various times in March and April
Registration: Coming soon to links on this page
Cost: Coming soon to links on this page
Frequency: Once each
Duration: One day or half day
Format: Online
Recording Available: No
Description: Titles include: “Half-Day Online Centering Prayer Retreat,” led by Cynthia Harp (March 8 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.); “One-Day Sacred Sounds Retreat.” led by Billie Woods (March 25, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.); “Half-Day Holy Saturday Centering Prayer Retreat,” led by Mary Anne Best (April 8, 9 a.m. – noon); “One-Day Centering Prayer Workshop—We are God’s Work of Art,” led by Lisa Brown (April 22, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
Comments:  We like that these provide a shorter opportunity to have several sits–a sort of mini retreat–to try these options online. This is a very accessible (and convenient) way to sample these offerings.

Virtual Sit Meditations during Lent

Dates and Times: Fridays during Lent (March 3 – April 7), 8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. 
Registration: Sign up for Virtual Sit Email meditations here or click the date on this page to participate
Cost: Free
Frequency: Weekly during Lent
Duration: 30 minutes
Format: YouTube
Recording Available: Yes
Description: This is a contemplative practice during Lent. From the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC): Join the CAC online contemplative community for a free series of Virtual Sit Meditations to cultivate greater awareness during this Lenten season.
Comments:  Many of us got started in meditation by doing sits with the CAC. It’s also very helpful to know that this is available for you to join, as opposed to being all on your own to do meditation. These Lenten meditations, with the support of this community, can be a great way to get started or experiment with a spiritual discipline.

Online United in Prayer Contemplative Outreach 

Dates and Times: Friday and Saturday, March 3-4
Registration: no registration required – Zoom link should be available March 2
Cost: Free
Frequency: One-time
Duration: 24 hours
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: No
Description: This is an online; 24-hour vigil around the globe. You can join in silence and community at any time and as many times as you are able. Each hour will include at least 20 minutes of Centering Prayer, followed by an offering from the hosting group, which may include a video segment, the practice of Lectio Divina, selected readings, community sharing, chanting, etc.. This is an annual event usually held around Father Thomas Keating’s March 7th birthday as an homage to his work. Click here to see a preliminary schedule of chapters hosting each hour.
Comments:  We like this because some of us have participated before—in person before the pandemic where separate centering groups could gather—and since the pandemic via Zoom. We find it meaningful because it is literally global. Different chapters host different hours. We’ve been really touched by what the different chapters choose to do. There is always a sit but the creativity and affirmation of the connectedness across space and time is very meaningful.

It’s All About Love Big Sit

Date and Time: Saturday, March 11; 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Free
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: Two hours
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Join us for a meaningful morning exploring the theme “It’s All About Love.” This Big Sit incorporates two 20-minute silent Centering Prayer sessions with Lectio Divina (sacred reading four times), Taizé chant, and stories about Love for our reflection.
Comments: We like the community and very accessible format of these “big sits” because they provide the opportunity to participate at the level you feel comfortable whether it’s your first time or your hundredth! This is a program of Contemplative Outreach Atlanta, an affiliate of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC).

Beyond Thin Places: How Celtic Spirituality Can Enhance Your Contemplative Practice

Dates and Times: Wednesdays, March 15, 22, and 29
Registration: Open
Cost: Suggested Contribution $50 for series or $20 per session
Frequency: three-part series
Duration: 75 minutes (6:30-7:45pm)
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes, available through April 30th
Description: Captured by the wisdom and beauty of Celtic Spirituality as shared by such treasured authors as John O’Donohue, Christine Valters Paintner, and John Philip Newell, some Eremos friends have sojourned to Ireland, Scotland, or Wales to experience “thin places” (where the veil between spirit and earth is perceived as thin). Others have been captured by what we’ve read or heard about Celtic Christianity and seek to know more.  This three-part series will explore and invite experiences in how Celtic wisdom can strengthen your contemplative practice and deepen your connection to God and nature, especially in spring when the earth is offering us powerful examples of renewal and rebirth.
Comments:  This is a new offering. Our experience participating in Eremos offerings has been good. We especially enjoy having the combination of the content from the presenters and then having a chance to share and interact in response. Participation is at whatever level you choose as the leaders offer questions to ponder. It’s not pressured, very inviting if you want to participate but not required. Eremos facilitates their programs well.

Poetry of the Season: Spring

Dates and Times: Tuesdays, March 14, June 13, September 12, December 12
Registration: Open (* Capacity limited to 16 participants)
Cost: Suggested Contribution $80 for series or $25 per session. Partial scholarships available.
Frequency: Quarterly
Duration: 2 hours (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.)
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Poetry in community gives us the opportunity to reconnect with our authentic selves, to be witnessed by others, and to bear witness for others. This Quarterly Gathering calls on the wisdom of poetry to help us connect more fully to each season and the concerns of the time. Drop below the surface of the season to listen for personal meaning and feeling.  Join one of our passionate-about-poetry experienced facilitators to hear poetry and wise quotes that offer insight into the season and what is alive in our community at the time. Each session includes experiencing poetry, time for personal reflection, and an invitation to write and share. No prior experience reading or writing poetry is necessary. Sharing your thoughts and writing is always by invitation.
Comments:  Participants love the poetry gatherings. Typically the facilitator begins with several poems – shared ahead of time in a handout, then gives about 20 minutes solo time to write, usually using a prompt or a line from one of the poems. We come back together in small groups and either share what we wrote or what the experience was like. Then back together as a whole group for wrap up.  Participants have liked listening to and reading a few carefully selected poems, as well as hearing what other people have written or have received from listening to the poems.  The groups are limited to 16 people in a pretty relaxed setting. This would be a good, supportive entry to reading and writing poetry, very accessible.

Peace in Troubled Times Centering Prayer Retreat

Dates and Times: 4 p.m. Friday, March 17, through – Noon, Sunday, March 19
Registration: Open
Cost: $25
Frequency: Weekend event with sessions on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday morning
Duration: Three days
Format: Zoom
Recording available: Y
Description: This is a two-night Centering Prayer Retreat on Zoom. Participants will spend time in Centering Prayer, meditative walks, and learning from mystics during this weekend retreat. The schedule begins at 3 p.m. Friday, March 17, and ends at 11 a.m. Sunday, March 19.
Comments: We like that this is a retreat you can do from your home, participating in the presentations, silent sessions, and contributing (or not) during times of sharing.

The Art of Dying and Living: An Exploration of Life, Death & the Afterlife

Dates and Times: Thursday – Sunday, March 23 – 26 
Registration: Open
Cost: $197
Frequency: Four-day online conference (Starts 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. with breaks between sessions
Duration: Four days
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: When you register, you’ll set up an account and there you will find the recording if it is available.
Description: Online conference and practice retreat. Explore ancient and modern understandings of the art of living and dying through the lenses of different spiritual traditions with 14 different speakers including Deepak Chopra, Matthew Fox, Joan Halifax, Frank Ostaseski and others.
Comments:  We thought this class was very rich, especially given all the different spiritual perspectives. It’s a bit oriented toward caregivers (but not necessarily professional caregivers, as many family members are in that role as well). We like this because we have been reading Frank Ostaseski at The Abbey meditation group and a number of our conversations have been along the lines of this topic. While this event may not be for everyone, we wanted to share this for those who might find it a fit. This is a program of the Tibet House US in New York, NY.

Everyday Contemplative: An Online Experience with  Roger Owens

Dates and Times: Mondays from 6 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., Feb. 20 – April 3
Registration: Open
Cost: $39
Frequency: Online and self-paced with weekly readings and live sessions, plus daily spiritual prompts
Duration: Six weeks
Format: Online and Zoom
Recording Available: Yes
Description: What does it mean to be contemplative? Many of us carry around stereotypical pictures of contemplative types—people who seem so unlike us that there is no way we could ever be contemplatives. But what if the word contemplative doesn’t just name a narrowly defined kind of prayer but also an approach to all prayer? And what if the same word doesn’t denote a specific way of life—extreme, alone with lots of somber sitting—but can describe any life that seeks to be more open, available, and responsive to God? This Lent, Roger Owens invites us to approach prayer and life differently. We’ll explore a contemplative approach applicable to all spiritual practices—indeed, to life itself. Each week will focus on a particular characteristic of contemplative living: longing, attention, patience, playfulness, vulnerability, non-judgment, and freedom. We’ll begin each week with a reading and spiritual practice designed to set a focus for the week. Each day, we’ll be guided in a simple practice designed to deepen our awareness of the week’s theme.
Comments:  We like the various formats in which content is offered, some online and then a weekly live Zoom so that you can interact and ask questions. There’s an online forum for participants to post and interact outside of the Zoom sessions. This one has some recordings you can view.

G.R.A.C.E.: Training in Cultivating Compassion-based Interactions

Dates and Times: Friday, March 17 – Sunday, March 19
Registration: Open
Cost: Free (donations accepted)
Frequency: Daily (for the three-day event)
Duration: Three days
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes
Description: G.R.A.C.E.®, developed by Roshi Joan Halifax, is a process that cultivates compassion while interacting with others. Drawing on neuroscience, social psychology, ethics, and contemplative perspectives, this scientifically grounded training enables one to foster specific elements allowing compassion and resilience to emerge. G.R.A.C.E. is an acronym for Gather attention, Recall intention, Attune to self/other, Consider what will serve, Engage and end.
NOTE: This weekend intensive is for clinicians, professional caregivers, therapists, chaplains, social workers, family caregivers, human rights activists, and others.
Comments:  We know these presenters and have found their sessions very helpful with compassion and embodiment practices which have positively impacted some of us in our work with compassion. This is accessible to lay people even though their website indicates it is for professionals. This is from the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM.

To Bear Mercy: The Enneagram, Inner Awakening, and the Instinctual Drives, A Wisdom school with Jonathan Steele and Jeanine Siler Jones

Dates and Times: Thursday, March 16 – Sunday, March 19
Registration: Open
Cost: $600
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: Weekend (Thursday – Sunday)
Format: In person at Camp Allen
Recording Available: N/A
Description: Join us as we come together and experience a practical engagement of the Wisdom lineage and the Enneagram. Our aim will be to rejoin the Enneagram with its Ancient Wisdom roots as we bring into focus the invitation to awakening that it offers in the context of inner work. We will follow a Wisdom School rhythm with meditation, sacred chanting, Lectio Divina, and physical movement. We will engage somatic and attention practices, exploring the Wisdom roots of the Enneagram, growing our capacity to gentle, harness and direct our instinctual drives toward conscious, practical and cosmic service. Together we will create a walking Enneagram and let this ancient symbol teach us. We will allow time to integrate, rest and explore the beauty of Camp Allen, nested in the gentle hills and piney woods of Texas.
Comments:  Camp Allen is a wonderful location for retreats and this Wisdom School combines a study of the Enneagram in the Wisdom lineage.

April 2023

We Gather Together: Resurrection – Transformation  Big Sit

Date and Time: Saturday, April 1; 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Free
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: Two hours
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Join us for a meaningful morning exploring the Resurrection-Transformation theme. This Big Sit incorporates two 20-minute silent Centering Prayer sessions with Lectio Divina (sacred reading four times), Taizé chant, and stories about Love for our reflection.
Comments: We like the community and very accessible format of these “big sits” because they provide the opportunity to participate at the level you feel comfortable whether it’s your first time or your hundredth! This is a program of Contemplative Outreach Atlanta, an affiliate of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC).

Finding Joy After the Sorrow with Mary C. Earle

Date and Time: Thursday, April 13
Registration: Open 
Cost: $40
Frequency: One-Time Event
Duration: 90 minutes (7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.)
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes, for 30 days following event
Description: In this season of rebirth and renewal, join us for an evening with Rev. Mary Earle, as she shares her wisdom on how she and others have found joy again after—and sometimes amidst—the sorrow experienced from illness, devastating loss, and unexpected change.  With plenty of time for questions after her opening presentation, this interactive conversation with Mary can help you:

  • Gently open to joy amidst any sorrow you are experiencing now.
  • Let go of guilt about finding joy after your own suffering or the suffering of others.
  • Feel compassion for yourself and others when returning to joy takes longer than you’d like.

Comments:  We know and like Mary Earle. We appreciate the combination of depth and humor in her presentations. She’s also known to weave in Celtic aspects as well which we enjoy. No matter what the topic is, she has a way of making it up-lifting.


Word of the Week

Dates and Times: Emails sent on Sundays, meets each Tuesday at 8 a.m. and Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Registration: Sign up for weekly emails here.
Cost: Free annual subscription (with recommended donation of $95/yr)
Frequency: Weekly, per above
Duration: One hour
Format: Zoom – link is sent weekly in the email on Sunday
Recording Available: No
Description: A beautiful email is sent on Sundays with the reading of Lectio Divina that will be done. There is a sit and then the Lectio Divina.
Comments:  We like this because it’s a chance to revisit the reading for the week—and they always include beautiful artwork (it’s Lectio and Visio Divina!). We like the sense of community. It’s a pretty stable group and there’s a chance to share. We also like the balance of it—they are very mindful of the time, it’s just an hour. There’s a rhythm of it that we like. We read the emails each week and appreciate having the email in advance to sit with it a little before the group reading. There are also opportunities to interact online with the group during the week. We will note that it can be difficult to find the link for the Zoom in the weekly email; it is also spelled out here—the third bullet has link to the zoom with poorly brown highlighted “Click on this link,” but it also provides the zoom code and passcode in the email.

Wisdom Waypoints Daily Centering Prayer/Meditation

Dates and Times: Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m.; Monday/Wednesday/Sunday 6 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m.
Registration: No registration required, join via website
Cost: Free
Frequency: Daily, per above
Duration: 30 minutes
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: No
Description: A collective wisdom pause for “Silence and Stillness.” Wisdom members lead each sit with a brief reading, chant, and meditation/stillness.
Comments:  We like this because it is a way to maintain our personal practice alongside others with the degree of anonymity (or not) with which we are each comfortable. Wisdom Waypoints is a part of Cynthia Bourgeault’s network of teaching and practice resources.

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