Two years goes by fast. In that time I began and am now close to completing my participation in the Living School – a course on contemplative reflection and practice that involves both on-site and online learning and the further development of spiritual practices.
Sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Living School draws together men and women of varying backgrounds and religious experience in order to deepen and expand one’s interior life as well as engaging with both the beauty and suffering of the world.
The last several months have been devoted to weaving this learning into our lives through a concrete commitment to a regular contemplative practice and to action that will contribute to a more just and merciful world.
My two years in the school has not only been challenging and insightful but also affirming.
Much of the material was somewhat familiar thanks to previous work I had done as part of my certification for spiritual direction.
There is also the exposure that I have had to contemplative prayer through my Catholic roots. For that I am very grateful as I could see how overwhelming much of the material was for those who did not have this background. It makes me appreciate anew the wisdom, beauty and depth of mystics such as Teresa of Avila and Ignatius Loyola. It is a gift to know something of their contemplative vision and a blessing to delve more fully into it.
As part of my “integration project” – i.e. the application of learning to my spiritual practice and as an active participant in the world – I am drawing my experience from the Living School into these blogs.
Regular readers might have noted the new series I recently began called “Saints and Mystics.” In each of these blogs, I highlight another of the great figures of spirituality and the contribution they made to a contemplative view of the world.
In the words of a modern-day mystic, Brother David Steindl-Rast, contemplation is an ongoing process of “putting together”. “We continuously measure what we are doing in time against the now that doesn’t pass away. We strive continuously to tune in to God’s creative Spirit, God’s will, God’s plan, and to let it give shape to reality ‘on earth as it is in heaven." Such a description explains the title of the school as a “living” one. Thus, our departure is not celebrated with a graduation, implying an ending, but with a sending.
What an appropriate way to stay in tune with the wondrous Spirit of God as the beauteous shape of reality.
…For catechetical leaders and principals. Read my blog about Teresa of Avila and her masterwork, The Interior Castle. Then share it with your catechists and teachers.
Download my Prayer for Reverence and use it to deepen your appreciation for and cultivation of a contemplative heart.