Contemplative Trove: Spiritual Practice Opportunities in May and June

Photo credit: Sandy Reich

By Melanie P. Moore, et. al.

Each month, 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 June or July and would like to have it listed here, please email the information as shown below to by May 15 to be included in the post at the beginning of May. Please note that all times are listed in Central Time.

May 2023

Visions of Engaged Buddhism: Vinny Ferraro in Conversation

Dates and Times: Sunday, May 7; 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Registration: Open until May 7; if class fills, a waiting list will start
Cost: $125, (scholarship rate also available)
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 2 hours
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Spirit Rock is proud to host Roshi Joan Halifax (Upaya Zen Center), Dharmacharya Valerie Brown (Plum Village), and Frank Ostaseski (Zen Hospice Project) in conversation about engaged Buddhist practice with Vinny Ferraro. Our time will be spent discussing what our traditions have in common and what that means regarding taking our practice off the cushion and into the world. Together we’ll explore the connections between social action, social justice, and social service and then focus on the inspired work each of these teachers has been involved in. There’ll be a short guided practice, as well a chance to be in dialogue with the panel. 
Comments: Many of us at The Abbey have really enjoyed books and presentations by Frank Ostaseki and Roshi Joan Halifax, and based on that we think this promises to be a wonderful event.

Visionary, Warrior, Healer, Sage: Archetypes to Navigate an Unraveling World

Dates and Times: Mondays, May 8, 15, 22, 29, June 5; Noon – 1 p.m.
Registration: Open; register here.
Cost: $150 (with reduced fee option of $120)
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Every day there is something happening to break our hearts. All around us the world seems to be unraveling at greater velocity. It can be an overwhelming place to be at times, but there are many resources available to help anchor us in a sense of steadiness and deeper wisdom to guide our responses. One of these resources is the archetypes, which are internal energies or patterns of being which appear across cultures. We invite you to join us for a five-week program where we will begin our first week with an orientation to introduce you to our themes, ways of working, and resources to draw upon, followed by four weeks where we will dive into each of the following archetypes to invite us into new perspectives and transformation: Visionary, Warrior, Healer, Sage. Each day there will be new content to explore which will help to deepen your journey with a particular archetype. We will have a forum for sharing in our retreat platform which will be facilitated and lovingly tended. The live session each Monday will last an hour. Tuesday through Friday there will be a daily 10-minute video from one of our guest teachers  Saturday we will offer some questions for reflection and integration. Sunday is a day of Sabbath rest and integration with no new content.
Comments: This is a program put on by Abbey of The Arts, a virtual monastery based in Ireland and led by Christine Valters Paintner. We think archetypes would be an interesting resource as noted in the description above. While we haven’t done a full series with this group before, we have done one-off programs and found them to be good.

Grateful Grief: A Guide for Living with Loss

Dates and Times: Tuesday, May 9, – Tuesday, June 13; 8 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.
Registration: Open through May 4
Cost: Variable, minimum $75
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: A six-week course exploring the empowering and nurturing ways that the practice of grateful living can sustain and guide us when living with grief and loss.
Comments: We like some of the speakers, especially David Whyte. Other speakers here include Special guests Francis Weller, Susan Cain, David Whyte, Dacher Keltner, and Patricia June Vickers. This is associated with a daily email service called Grateful Living at

The Healing Path with James Finley

Dates and Times: Wednesday, May 10, 8 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Registration: Register here.
Cost: “Choose a price that fits your budget”
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 1.5 hours
Format: online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Gather with contemplative seekers and wounded healers to dive deeper into Finley’s insights on spiritual healing and share in contemplative practices based on themes from his new book, The Healing Path: A Memoir and an Invitation.
Comments: Finley is a faculty member of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) and host of the “Turning to the Mystics” podcast. There is a “Turning to the Mystics” bonus podcast where he discusses this book. He is a wonderful spiritual teacher, speaker, and has worked as a psychotherapist for years. He was a student of Thomas Merton as a novice at Gethsemane monastery in Kentucky. We find Finley’s work to be so rich that we return to it often.

Ubuntu and Contemplation: How an Indigenous African Philosophy Maps Our Spiritual Path to Global Community

Dates and Times: Saturday, May 13, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Registration: Closes at noon on Friday, May 12; register here
Cost: Recommended contribution: $50 (scholarships available)
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 3 hours
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes, for registered participants
Description: The gathering will begin with a 20-30 minute contemplative experience. This will include Centering Prayer and a brief guided meditation to expand our experience and open our hearts. There will be pauses for silence, small group sharing using the “Ubuntu Circles” process, and discernment about what God may be inviting our community into in terms of spiritual/racial/cultural union.Emerging from the ancient cultural traditions of sub-Saharan Africa, the deeply communitarian philosophy known as Ubuntu challenges Western habits of mind in ways that complement and complete the experience of contemplation. In this workshop, we hope to bring together people from diverse backgrounds who share an interest in contemplation. Together we will learn about Ubuntu as we pray through, think about and practice how to release the natural unity the Holy Spirit constantly offers the world. The session is led by The Very Reverend Michael Battle, the Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society and Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at General Theological Seminary in New York. Through his PeaceBattle Institute, he works on subjects of diversity, spirituality, prayer, race and reconciliation. He has also served as chaplain to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Congressman John Lewis, the Episcopal House of Bishops and, in 2008, was chaplain to the global Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops.
Comments: The Ubuntu topic intrigues us because it emphasizes our connection to each other. We are curious to learn more about this approach to community and spirituality. Battle had strong connections to the late Desmond Tutu and we think this would be a valuable learning opportunity.

June 2023

Planting Life: Sowing and Preserving Native Seeds of Antiquity

Dates and Times: Thursday – Sunday, June 1 – June 4
Registration: Open, limited to 32 participants
Cost: In person: $405 (Upaya Members), $450 (Non-members); Online: by donation
Duration: 4 days
Format: In person or Online
Recording Available: N/A
Description: Please join us for our unique annual Upaya online and in-person Planting Life program beginning on Thursday evening, June 1 and continuing until mid-day, Sunday, June 4, 2023, Our time together will be grounded in daily meditation and socially engaged Buddhist training infused with the dynamic teachings of Native seedways and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. On Saturday, June 3, 2023, we will gather in the Upaya Zen Windmill Garden to sow the heritage seeds of persistent Native culture and to offer a formal seed blessing ceremony convened by Native leaders. Please note that Wendy Johnson will give the public Dharma talk on Wednesday, May 31st on the topic of Planting Life and Growing the Seeds of Persistent Culture.
Comments: We know Upaya is a well-trusted source and think that, if this is your path, you would find much to learn and a great experience to be had. Upaya has a variety of programs, including certification and other more rigorous programs as well as some general interest type offerings.

Eremos Summer Interlude Series

Dates and Times: Wednesdays at Noon,  June 7 – August 23
Registration: Open; each week has a separate registraion
Cost: Free
Frequency: Weekly
Duration: 6 weeks, sessions can be done individually (it’s not a six-week commitment)
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: not stated on registration page
Description: In a year when Eremos is focusing on Facets of Joy, we invite you to explore with us this summer how wonder is a vital component or facet of joy. From opening to more wonder and awe to using your gift of curiosity to wonder about this world we live in, developing our sense of wonder can sharpen our awareness of the joy all around us. Join us for as many of the free 1-hour sessions you can this summer, as each facilitator explores a different way to connect with wonder which in turn connects us to more joy.
Comments: We enjoy the Eremos online offerings and this series–which participants can register for any or all weeks–looks to be a lovely way to become more attentive to joy in our own lives.

Poetry of the Season: Spring

Dates and Times: Tuesdays, 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 (6:30-8:30pm)
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: No
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 will include 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:  We haven’t done this particular one. This would be a good, supportive environment into reading and writing poetry. Very accessible and usually the size of the group is limited to maybe 12-15 participants.

Closer Than Breath: The Christian Mystic Summit

Dates and Times: Sunday – Thursday, June 18 – 22
Registration: Open
Cost: Free
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 5 Days
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: This free, five-day summit brings nine contemplative teachers to explore the depths of the Christian mystical tradition, with a keynote speech by Carl MacColman, author of The New BIg Book of Christian Mysticism. The summit is sponsored by Closer Than Breath, an online spiritual community with a fee-based membership model, and Broadleaf Books.
Comments: There are some speakers we know at this free event. We’ve read MacColman’s books, including his Big Book of Christian Mysticism (there is a new edition, just out) and some of us follow Justin Coutts on Facebook and his website, New Eden Ministry, where his blog posts are interesting reading; he is a self-described “Christian animist, aspiring contemplative, Celtic neo-platonist, and occasional bard.”

Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a few Miracles, Eremos Summer Book Reflection

Dates and Times: June – Dates and Times vary based on facilitator
Registration: Open
Cost: $50 + book
Frequency: Four 90-minute facilitated sessions
Duration: Four weeks
Format: 3 groups meet online, 1 group meets in person
Recording Available: No
Description: Journey with us for four weeks in June as we explore Rivvy Neshama’s recipes (short essays divided into ten sections or themes) for a sacred life. As we read and discuss them, inspiration and clarity about our personal recipes are sure to arise. In Rivvy’s words: “…what I hope is this: that you find a few [recipes] that will add to the wonder, love, and sacredness of your life. Those are the ones to follow. Those are the ones to keep.” Hearing from each other in the group about which recipes call to us can, in turn, help us better clarify what our own recipes are. Beautiful inspiration to take with us into the rest of the summer and the second half of the year.
Comments: Note that when you register, you can view the schedules (dates and times) of each facilitated group to be sure you find one that fits your schedule. We’ve done them and have enjoyed these book reflection groups. We know our friend from The Abbey, Joyce Palevitz, is leading one of the groups online and we think she’s a terrific facilitator. Groups in our experience have been about 6 – 8 people, some from wide-ranging parts of the U.S. for the online groups.

Discovering Your Recipes for a Sacred Life

Dates and Times: Saturday, June 24, 9:30 a.m. – Noon
Registration: Open
Cost: $50
Frequency: One-time
Duration: 2.5 hours
Format: In person, at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, Austin, TX
Recording Available: No
Description: Inspired by Neshama’s book, Recipes for a Sacred Life, acclaimed author, speaker, and facilitator, Jeanne Guy, will create a space for us—along with a little laughter—to share the wisdom of our experiences and of those we admire to gather our best recipes for a sacred life. Through journaling, conversation, writing prompts, wit and more, Jeanne will help you remember all you already know and give you an opportunity to share it with others. From watching more comedies to calling more friends more often, we can’t wait to hear your recipes! Whether you’re ready to pass on this wisdom to loved ones, or wanting more inspiration, join us for a morning exploring how we define and delight in what makes a sacred life. Leave with a unique list of “recipes” you’ve created and collected from your peers to enrich your life and to pass on to loved ones. 
Comments: This is a one-time, in-person event using the same book the Eremos Book reflection groups are reading in June. We’ve participated in groups led by Jeanne Guy before and have found her to be a very engaging facilitator–with a great combination of depth and wit.


The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seekers of the Sacred

Dates and Times: Virtual, on your own time/Self-study
Registration: Open, sign up here
Cost: $160
Frequency: Daily – six days each week participants receive an email with a link to the day’s content.
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Online
Recording Available: N/A; participants will have access to all program materials for the lifetime of the website.
Description: Christine Valters Paintner uses reflections, stories, guided activities, prayer experiences, and a variety of creative arts to help you patiently and attentively listen to God’s invitation. This 12-week self-study retreat is a companion to Christine’s book The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred. Journey together inviting you to explore the gifts of Celtic Christian spirituality, practices unique to this ancient tradition, inspiring stories of Irish saints, scripture reflections, plus creative invitations into writing and photography. Each chapter begins with a story of a particular Irish saint—some well-known like Patrick or Brigid, others less so, such as Ita and Ciaran—and then introduces a helpful practice for discernment that the saint’s life illustrates. Also included are 12 vibrant songs commissioned for each saint and practice along with gesture prayers taught by liturgical dancer and movement therapist Betsey Beckman, MM to bring the whole body into our prayer in an open and accessible way.
Comments: The meditation group at The Abbey is currently reading this book and several of us have read it before. It is a wonderful book and this opportunity to work at your own pace with resources from the author could be great, particularly if your schedule requires flexibility.

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.

Be the first to know when a new post publishes

We do not spam or share your information!

Please check your Junk email folder for the confirmation to join our list.
Please add our email to your "Not Junk" list. Thank you!

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Abbey, 2022 | Site by Batch Creative