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Archive for Contemplation in Action

Sighing Through Song

Today’s post is by Jeff Nelson It’s different for everyone, yet all know this experience. A woman driving home after receiving good news at work finds an uplifting song on the radio that speaks to her newfound joy. A man back from a hard visit with his mother in the nursing home starts his Spotify […]

Healing Prayer for the World

Today’s post is by Patience Robbins. The other day I found myself weeping over the state of our world. I felt deep grief and pain; I call it being heartsick. I felt moved to seek out another person so I could share this deep pain. As we sat together and I wept, I felt comforted. […]

May 05, 2016 by Patience Robbins
Categories: Contemplation in Action and Contemplative Living. Tags: compassion, grief, pain, struggle, and suffering. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Prayer Circles for Peace

“I am a cosmic citizen, a planetary being who lives in the Americas in the United States.” This was a line shared by a teacher I had one summer. It sure blows open any narrow attachment to a certain country or geographical place and calls forth a whole new perspective on who I am related to and where I belong. This ties in so well with what I have been learning (and thus teaching) in my own life–the interconnectedness of all.

For years I have been quoting a line from Thomas Merton: “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” As I grow in the contemplative life, I continue to notice and experience the truth of these words–unity with others and the earth. In fact, now I am praying the question: How do we live out of this interconnectedness, especially as I notice that I often act, think and live as though I am separate, independent and self-sufficient?

Seeing When It’s Not Pretty

It is his feet I notice first. My mind right away says, homeless. It is uncomfortable to see, but something in me says don’t turn away, stay with your feelings, don’t opt out.

I am on the Metro early this November morning on my way to catch an Amtrak train from DC to NC to lead a retreat. The train is business day pack-full. I am standing and practically hovering over a slumped, trying-to-slumber figure—a man or woman, I can’t immediately tell.

The feet and ankles are unrecognizable, so grossly swollen and riddled with marks resembling rotten wood. I think these must be crazy tights, but no, the toenails tell otherwise.

This is not easy to write and I imagine for you not easy to read. But please stay with me.

The place God calls you is where your deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Fredrick Buechner

Gabriel’s Towing Service

I was rescued by an angel named Gabriel. It was the last day of our retreat and our leader offered some suggestions. She said it was best to not rush off from the retreat to try to catch up on all the things we didn’t get done. She encouraged us to take our time, drive slowly and rest as we eased back into our busy work schedule. Of course, I felt that somehow I was exempt from her instructions.

The minute the retreat was over and we said our goodbyes, I hopped into my car, threw my bags in the backseat and tried to get out of the parking lot before it got jammed up. Not more than 40 seconds later I found my car bucking, jerking, revving, and on the verge of stalling at the next traffic light. I was horrified and immediately filled with dread. I had no time to deal with a problem car.

Lucky for me I made it to the next large building, a spa. I found it interesting to have just left a retreat center and to barely have made it to the parking lot of a spa. I parked the car, gave it a grimacing look, and went to the spa to call Triple A. I growled at myself for not having listened to our retreat leader and wondered if I was being punished for not following the directions.

Silence, Seeing, Solidarity, Salaam

Last fall I was in Iraqi Kurdistan with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). CPT has been a peaceful presence in Iraq since 2002, first from Baghdad and since 2006 from Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, at the invitation of and in solidarity with local people of peace.

To see what makes for peace is to know when to break silence and when to be silent in solidarity with suffering people seeking salaam. Contemplatives know that we see and speak from our heart and head.

Shalem Summer Reading 2014

SHALEM STAFF READING PICKS Have you ever wondered about the books the Shalem staff reads? Here’s what some of the Shalem staff have been enjoying over the last year. From Bryan Berghoef: Anthony DeMello, Awareness This book was a surprising and enjoyable read. Taken almost verbatim from lectures given at a retreat, DeMello’s style is […]

Shalem Summer Reading 2013

SHALEM STAFF READING PICKS Have you ever wondered about the books the Shalem staff reads? Here’s what some of the Shalem staff have been enjoying over the last year. From Bryan Berghoef: John Steinbeck, To a God Unknown A novel about the land, relationships, spirituality, and the longings we have for connection and meaning between […]

Shalem Summer Reading 2012

Whether you are at the beach, or in your backyard, study or bedroom, we recommend some Shalem authors for your summer reading pleasure: Dougherty, Rose Mary.  Discernment: A Path to Spiritual Awakening A sensitive guide through the sometimes difficult terrain of spiritual discernment Dougherty, Rose Mary.  Group Spiritual Direction: Community for Discernment An essential resource […]