Heart Longings: An Invitation to the Contemplative Path

Live from a place of calm and love in these turbulent times

November 2024 – June 2025 on Zoom

Does your heart long for a deeper connection to God within a community of like-hearted souls?

Program runs November 2024 – June 2025

Early Bird Deadline: September 20, 2024
Regular Deadline: October 18, 2024

Heart Longings: An Invitation to the Contemplative Path is an eight-month program that invites you to ground yourself in a place of calm and love, embracing diverse spiritual expressions. With the support of community, retreats, monthly gatherings, small group time and spiritual direction, we explore our hearts’ longings. The program begins and ends with 24-hour retreats and meets monthly on Saturday mornings in between.

Free Info Sessions

Join us on Zoom to discern about the rightness of this program for you. Talk with the Director and recent grads. Choose a date below.

Heart Longings Timeline

Opening Retreat: November 15-16, 2024: (Friday 5pm-9pm ET and Saturday 10am-5pm ET)
December 14, 2024: (10am-1pm ET)
January 4, 2025: (10am-1pm ET)
February 1, 2025: (10am-1pm ET)
March 15, 2025: (10am-1pm ET)
April 5, 2025: (10am-1pm ET)
May 10, 2025: (10am-1pm ET)
Closing Retreat: June 6-7, 2025: (Friday 5pm-9pm ET and Saturday 10am-5pm ET)

Sample Topics

Staying Grounded in the Storm: Contemplative Living
For Everything There Is a Season: Waiting, Listening, and Acting
Building the Beloved Community
Listening and Seeing: Music and Art as Contemplation
Walking as Prayer: Body and Nature
Sacred Activism: Contemplative Grounding for Social Change
Earth Awareness
Staying Faithful to the Journey: Gifts and Challenges

A Certificate of Completion is awarded upon completion of all program requirements.


The opening and closing retreats as well as the monthly gatherings all meet on Zoom.

“The Heart Longings program provided me with the love, support, and true community that I needed during a time of uncertainty and testing of my faith. My faith in God increased, and I built connections with others that I believe will continue for many years to come. I learned spiritual practices and tools that helped me grow closer to God in new and amazing ways. I am forever grateful for this experience.”

-Pamela Palmer


Margaret Benefiel


Margaret, Executive Director of Shalem, holds a PhD in Spirituality from Catholic University and an MA in Theology from Earlham School of Religion. She is a graduate of Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program and serves on the staff of that program as well as on the staff of Going Deeper: Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership Program and Crossing the Threshold: Contemplative Foundations for Emerging Leaders. She created and directs the Soul of Leadership Program and is a co-director for the Heart Longings: An Invitation to the Contemplative Path program. She has authored or co-edited 7 books, including Soul Food, Crisis Leadership, The Soul of Higher Education, The Soul of Supervision, The Soul of a Leader, Soul at Work, and Hidden in Plain Sight, and has published over 50 articles and book chapters.

“As I reflect on my time in the program, I can see three distinct gifts I received: the gift of vulnerability, the gift of showing up for myself, and the gift of community. I received the gift of vulnerability every time my small group met. During our time together, I would often be prompted by God to share things I either rarely talked about or never talked about at all. The women in my group always made space for each of us to be seen, heard, loved, and we were always encouraged to look for God in everything….”

– Tara Pray, Freelance Writer and Social Work Professional

“’What is love? It is a walk in a drizzle. You walk and walk and only after a while do you realize that you have become soaked to the core (attributed to Pope John Paul II).’ Looking back at my walk with Heart Longings, I can see how contemplative stillness quietly uncovered itself as an element of my core. I can feel how these people will always be part of my community. I’m grateful for the climate. I keep walking.”

– Aleksandra Lewandowska, Inspirational Speaker (Warsaw, Poland)

“As a course name, Heart Longings perfectly evoked the sense of excitement and possibility I brought to the class. The phrase also conjured in my mind a heart-led journey toward something long-awaited, hoped for, yet never quite obtainable. Those were the images that stirred in my heart and mind when, in 2022, I encountered Shalem’s Heart Longings: An Invitation to the Contemplative Path.”

– Janet G. Hudson, Professional Coach


  • Early bird (through 9/20/2024): $1,300
  • Regular price (after 9/20/2024): $1,500

Need-based tuition assistance is available. For more information, contact Chris Jeffrey, chris@shalem.org.



Christine (Chris) Jeffrey is the Registrar for Heart Longings: An Invitation to the Contemplative Path and can be contacted at chris@shalem.org.


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.