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New Movements of the Spirit

Article by Margaret Benefiel (July 2017 eNews)

What is the Spirit doing now? This question frames the New Contemplative Exchange, a gathering of 19 young contemplative leaders with Thomas Keating, Tilden Edwards, Richard Rohr, and Laurence Freeman, occurring next month at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

Fifty years ago, the Spirit stirred Keating, Edwards, Rohr, and Freeman to a rediscovery of contemplative prayer in the West. While Eastern forms of meditation had begun to come to the West, they discovered, each in their own way, that their own Christian tradition contained a contemplative core. They began to spread this message and to invite others to join them in contemplative practice. Their individual journeys led to the creation of Contemplative Outreach (Keating), the Shalem Institute (Edwards), the Center for Action and Contemplation (Rohr) and World Community for Christian Meditation (Freeman).

Now, these leaders feel, the time has come for them to support young contemplative leaders, who, like themselves 50 years ago, are experiencing fresh winds of the Spirit for our time.

I am honored to have been invited to facilitate this gathering, and am excited to see what God is up to. We will gather to notice and name the Spirit’s movement. We will celebrate what God has done in the renewal of contemplative prayer in the past 50 years. We will celebrate what God is doing now.

What new forms are emerging that invite people into contemplative practice in this time and place? What new life is springing forth? How do we nurture this new life? These are just a few of the questions we will ask.

Based on the premise that contemplative practice serves as the vital grounding of Christian life and service, the gathering will explore how prayer moves us to respond to the urgent social and spiritual needs of our time. We will ground our time together in prayer, seeking to explore our questions through a heart-centered approach, listening for God’s voice in the midst of our conversations. We will take time for silence as needed, seeking to go deeper in our listening. Above all, we want to hear and respond to God, willing to let go of our own agendas.

I hope you will join us in prayer as we listen. I hope you will help undergird our contemplative grounding. We know our gathering will only ultimately be worthwhile if we listen deeply. If we respond to the Spirit’s stirrings in our hearts rather than the machinations of our minds, the fruit that is borne will remain.

30 responses to “New Movements of the Spirit”

  1. So that we may pray for the gathering as it is meeting, are you allowed to tell us its inclusive dates?
    Thanks, Alan Youel

  2. A wonderful article about an exciting venture! Thank you, Margaret!

  3. Sue Fowler says:

    May I volunteer to clean, cook, set up, break down meetings up there in Snowmass?!!!! What an amazing gathering that will be!!! Thank you for what you all do!
    Sue Fowler
    Shalem class of 2002!

  4. Jeff Genung says:


    Thank you for sharing how the spirit is moving towards a vision of the next wave of the Christian contemplative movement. It’s inspiring to know that Fr. Thomas and the other elders are contemplating how to hand on the torch to the generation of practitioners. I will join you all in prayer during this time of reflection.

  5. Wow, what a beautiful meeting that will be. Wish I could be there. Many Blessings to all of you.

  6. Ms. Gerry Fagoaga says:

    How awesome to witness how the Spirit is moving anew to bring about this gathering!
    I’m already praying for the Spirit’s direction and guidance upon all participating.

  7. David Salamon says:

    It soundsike a wonderful conference! Wish I was coming. Special Blessings to you.

  8. Such a wonderful gathering!Should help this tradition to continue to thrive.

  9. Joyce Vertun says:

    This meeting is such good news! It lifts my heart to think what wonders God may choose to do with you all together -even more than what has already been accomplished with the cooperation of each individual. We will pray for you all as you listen.

  10. David Cole says:

    As a young(ish) contemplative leader I am very interested in this, and would have loved to be there (what a set of teachers!). Sadly I am in the UK and this may have been invitation only, but I would love any outcome of it, any thing which one can download, or listen to, or watch…

    • Margaret Benefiel says:

      So glad to know of your interest, David. We will share the outcomes of the gathering after it ends. Perhaps you will be available to participate in a future gathering?

  11. This will be a fascinating and uplifting few days. I shall look drawers to following what comes out of it and hearing more.

  12. Will be praying for wisdom and enlightenment of the spirit for the group and looking forward to any outcome you choose to share. Pace e Bene!

  13. Janet Hadley says:

    I will be in prayer, that the Spirit will enlighten all with wisdom and knowledge.That all will hear, the voice of our God.
    Waiting to hear the wind of the Spirit.
    Blessings and Peace

  14. […] to learn more about the Snowmass New Contemplatives Exchange, here’s a link to a letter from the Shalem Institute, a longtime organizational supporter of spiritual direction work and the contemplative life, […]

  15. Is this still open for registration?

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