Contemplative Trove: Upcoming Practice Opportunities in November and December

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 have floundered around in the past looking for community and deep engagement with other pilgrims on the spiritual path. Here we
share a curated list of what we are finding, hoping you might find some of it helpful on your
journey. We’ve included a Comments section with each listing detailing what we as participants
have liked. If you know of something coming up in December or January and would like to have
it listed here, please email the information as shown below to by
November 25 to be included in the post at the beginning of December. Please note that all
times are listed in Central Time.


Angels, Saints, and Ancestors as Spiritual Companions and Guides

Dates and Times: 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m., Fridays, Nov. 3, 10, and 17
Registration:  Open
Cost:  $79
Frequency: Weekly
Duration: 3 weeks
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes, for 12 months
Description: November is a time in the Celtic and Christian calendars when the veil between worlds is said to be very thin. This is the season when those spiritual beings who dwell in what the Celts called the Otherworld are more accessible to us. These beings include angels, saints, and our ancestors who support and inspire us throughout our lives when we learn how to connect and attune to them in various ways. Three rich sessions with teaching, meditation, poetry, and creative exploration from Christine and music from Simon, along with opportunities for questions and interaction: Session One – Archangels and Guardian Angels; Session Two – Saints as the Wise and Well Ones, Session Three – The Blessings of Our Ancestors. Participants from all spiritual traditions and orientations are welcome in this webinar series as are those with all levels of spiritual experience.
Comments: This is presented by Abbey of the Arts, an online Abbey based in Ireland. We have liked many of their offerings and the books by their founder Christine Vaulters-Paintner. This series is based on her new book The Love of Thousands.

Practicing Spirituality through Creativity

Dates and Times: Monday, Oct. 23 – Friday, Dec. 1
Registration: Open
Cost: $69.95
Frequency: Self-paced with weekly emails
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Online, self-paced with weekly emails
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Join us to discover the artist in you. Every day (early morning in the U.S.) you will
receive an email with a short quotation and a suggestion of a simple related spiritual practice.
We will savor the spiritual insights of Thomas Moore, Matthew Fox, Frederick Franck, Julia
Cameron, Sister Wendy Beckett, M. C. Richards, Jan Phillips, Corita Kent, Natalie Goldberg, Alan
Jones, Madeleine L’Engle, Shaun McNiff, Gabrielle Roth, Judith Orloff, and many others. We will
also meet as a community to share our insights and even samples of our creativity in the online
Practice Circle. It’s time to let creativity seep into every nook and cranny of your life!
Comments: We have been reading Matthew Fox’s book…Creativity… and thought this would be
of interest to creative people. While we know this e-course began in October, with the
Spirituality and Practice offerings, once you have joined, you have access to all materials in your
account regardless of published course times and dates.

Living Gratefully: Every Moment a Gift & Opportunity

Dates and Times: Saturday, Nov. 4; 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Suggested $15, or pay from the heart: free-will offering
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 1.5 hours
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: When we live gratefully, we connect with the preciousness of our moments.
Connected to life in this way, we come to treasure and savor what is within and around us,
Join this experiential exploration of how to reap the blessings of unconditional gratitude and
thanks giving every day. Learn about principles and practices that support us to live a grateful
life. Enjoy perspective-enhancing meditation, reflective writing prompts, and poetry.
Part workshop and part retreat, this session is intended to be nourishing and uplifting for body,
mind, and spirit.
Comments: This is from a group we know, Closer than Breath, and we have enjoyed many of
their offerings in the past. While we are unfamiliar with this presenter, it looks like an
interesting program from a trusted source.

The Grace in Dying and Centering Prayer

Dates and Times: Saturday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Free (Suggested donation $25 – $50)
Frequency: One-time event 
Duration: 6 hours
Format: Online
Recording Available: No
Description: Join us for a one day workshop led by The Rev Tom Ward exploring the “Grace in Dying” and its relation to the Centering Prayer practice. In her book The Grace in Aging  psychotherapist and Buddhist practitioner Kathleen Dowling Singh recommends “taking the one seat” as a practice to enable us to age gracefully, and she sees Centering Prayer as one good way to take that seat. In this workshop we will consider different aspects of the aging process as Singh describes them through presentations, small group discussions, and the practice of Centering Prayer. Tom is a  retired university chaplain at the University of the South and now spends his days focusing on the contemplative dimension of the gospel, teaching Centering Prayer, and leading retreats.
Comments: We’ve read The Grace in Aging book several times and loved it. This looks like a great event.

Inciting Joy: A Conversation with Poet & Author Ross Gay

Dates and Times: Thursday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: $40 (partial scholarships available)
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 1.5 hours
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: Yes
Description:  Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding, winner of the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. In addition to his poetry, Ross has released three collections of essays—The Book of Delights was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller; Inciting Joy was released in 2022, and his newest collection, The Book of (More) Delights was released in September of 2023.
Comments: We’ve read interviews with Ross Gay and are admirers of his work. This looks like a wonderful opportunity to see more if you are a fan and to be introduced to Gay and his work if you are not familiar.

Shalem Institute’s 2023 Contemplative Voices Award: Cole Arthur Riley and James Finley

Dates and Times: Sunday, Nov. 19; 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Suggested donation of $75
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 2 hours
Format: Online
Recording Available: No
Description: This is a fundraiser for the Shalem INstitute’s 50th Anniversary. Shalem’s
Contemplative Voices Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to
contemplative understanding, living and leadership and whose witness helps others live from
the divine wellspring of compassion, strength, and authentic vision. Shalem is pleased to award our 2023 Contemplative Voices Award to Cole Arthur Riley and James Finley. The two awardees will share stories of their own contemplative journeys.
Comments: Note that this is a fundraiser so there will be appeals for donations. However, the
two honorees who will be speaking, Cole Arthur Riley and James Finley, are contemplative
authors whose work we admire.

Gratefulness and Generosity

Dates and Times: Sunday, Nov. 26, Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Donations accepted
Frequency: One-time event
Duration: 1.5 hours
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Gratefulness is not simply a response to life’s blessings. It is a cultivated attitude of
heart and mind, a natural expression of generosity, a way that we share love and joy.
Gratefulness fosters a spirit of belonging and nourishes positive social and cultural change. In
this special program, Frank and Roshi explore the power and gift of gratefulness through
teachings, meditation, and exploration with our community.
Comments: This is led by Frank Ostaseski and Roshi Joan Halifax, two esteemed Zen teachers
we always want to hear from. This is a program topic from these two teachers that several of us
participated in last year and we are eager to revisit. We like that they do some presenting and
some interaction with participants, with participants who choose to interact. This is usually a
large group and you can participate at the level you are comfortable–from anonymous viewer
to active question-asker.

Exploring a Nondual Christianity of Cosmic Proportions

Dates and Times: This is a recording of an earlier event; available any time
Registration: Open
Cost: $48.30
Frequency: Three-event session (recorded event)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Format: Online recording
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Cynthia Bourgeault offers an overview of her principal theological tenants and
emergent thinking, drawing from her most recent book The Corner of Fourth and Nondual, a
title inspired by Thomas Merton’s famous moment of revelation ‘at the Corner of Fourth and
Walnut.’ Bourgeault is an internationally-renowned retreat leader, accomplished author,
medieval scholar, and avid sailor. She is the inspirational and respected teacher to a world-wide
network of spiritual practitioners and seekers, offering her unique blend of thoughtful insight,
and practical guidance. The foundations of her theology dynamically weave together a
cosmology based in the fourteen-billion-year-old universe story, illuminated through Imaginal
seeing from the eye of the heart, and grounded in the contemplative arts as espoused by the
world’s great Wisdom traditions.
Comments: It’s no secret that we are veteran students of many of Cynthia Bourgeault’s
presentations and Wisdom Schools, and we recommend this recording of a previous event, if
the topic is of interest to you. The following description is from the registration site: “For
people familiar with Cynthia’s work, this course offers an engaging retrospective to the
foundational insights that were developed when Cynthia lived on the Salish Sea 25 years ago.
People new to Cynthia’s teaching will find an inspiring and spiritually relevant introduction to
the Christian wisdom path, with practical suggestions on how to integrate these spiritual
practices into their own lives.”


God 2.0: Pantheism and Quantum Reality

Dates and Times: Friday, Dec. 1 – Sunday, Dec. 3; All day
Registration: Early-bird registration open until Nov. 3
Cost: $150
Frequency: One-time (annual event)
Duration: One Weekend
Format: Online
Recording Available: Yes
Description: Can God be updated? Classic theism would say, absolutely not! But God is an
incomprehensible mystery and our approach to the mystery is shaped by ways of knowing the
real, a type of knowledge that cannot be fixed or located in any one age. We will explore how
science, culture and scripture can help us appreciate a wider, more expansive understanding of
God in ways that empowers us to creatively contribute to the wholeness we seek.
Comments: This is the annual conference of the Center for Christogenesis. The speaker is Ilia
Delio, a Franciscan nun, whose most recent book is The Not-Yet God: Carl Jung, Teilhard de
Chardin, and the Relational Whole. The Center for Christogenesis is a nucleus of creative
scholarship, building on the work of Teilhard, emphasizing evolution and process theology.
Delio is on the cutting edge of clarifying a vision of God compatible with evolutionary theory,
quantum physics, and our current cosmology concepts. We really like her concepts, and we find
her work intellectually rigorous. For this event, we look forward to hearing her speak because in
her talks, the concepts are sometimes more accessible to us than in her writing. Other speakers
include Rami Shapiro, Catherine Keller and Bruce Epperly.


Contemplative Chant

Dates and Times: Wednesdays at 4 p.m.
Registration: Open
Cost: Free
Frequency: Ongoing
Duration: 30 minutes
Format: Online
Recording Available: No
Description: 30 minutes of contemplative chant from Wisdom Waypoints, with chants led by Susan Latimer and Elizabeth Combs. Chanting is a wonderful practice for bringing both the Moving Center (body, breath, tone) and the Emotional Center (open heart) online. It is a spiritual practice that opens our hearts, nourishes our nervous systems, prepares us for prayer and meditation as a bridge into stillness, and connects us to our innate joy, courage, steadfastness, peace, beauty, truth and goodness. In times of great uncertainty and change, we find chant to be one of the things that most grounds us. These sessions draw chants from Wisdom Schools, various spiritual and religious traditions, sacred texts, old hymns and poetry. Because of the limitations of synching sound on Zoom, all participants are muted except for the one leading. This allows everyone to chant along in their own space. (Great if you are shy about sharing your voice! Fun if you like to try harmonies!)
Comments: Some of us join this contemplative chant weekly and enjoy it very much. We find it a wonderful contemplative practice. Wisdom Waypoints is the wisdom community started by Cynthia Bourgeault, one of our favorite wisdom teachers. Note that this is a small and warm group of regular participants. Therefore, it can be more difficult to participate anonymously.

The Abbey Tuesday Morning Meditation and Book Discussion: Learning to Walk in the Dark

Dates and Times: Tuesdays at 8 a.m. (Meditation at 8 a.m., optional book discussion at 8:30 a.m.)
Registration: Open
Cost: Free
Frequency: Weekly
Duration: Ongoing
Format: Zoom
Recording Available: No
Description: A 20-minute sit, followed by discussion of Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark.
Comments: Of course we love this meditation group! It’s The Abbey, our own contemplative community.

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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