contemplative resources


Chosen by Brenda Bertrand & by ArDonna Hamilton

This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us

by Cole Arthur Riley (creator of Black Liturgies)

Part family biography and part theological reflection, the prolific Black female author invites readers on a contemplative journey of discovery. She courageously shares the stories that made her and the one she is making, unveiling a surprising path to healing. She invites readers to lean into their own invitation to spiritual liberation.
~ Brenda Bertrand, Co-Leader of On the Camino: Remember, Release and Reimagine

It is a beautiful offering of stories and wisdom that invites the reader to cherish this “flesh” we are often taught to despise.
~ ArDonna Hamilton, Office and Development Coordinator

Chosen by Trish Stefanik

Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred

by Victoria Loorz

Loorz helped me to recover my Christ tradition as deeply rooted in communion with the one web of Life, to listen and learn anew how all is connected and inviting love.
~Trish Stefanik, Program Administrator & Co-Director of Heart Longings: An Invitation to the Contemplative Path

Chosen by Dawn Peck

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature

by J. Drew Lanham

This book is wonderful. It authentically and in a hope-filled, yet realistic way presents intergenerational struggles for survival in a loving, eyes-opened way. It also offers the reality of the lived experience of social justice/racial issues which some of us continue to work to understand in fuller ways. There is humor throughout. Lived experience with Church is described, also in an honest way.
~Dawn Peck, Board Member

Chosen by Dawn Peck

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love

by Valarie Kaur

The author is a Sikh activist. She begins with her childhood as a non-Christian, loving person of color growing up in the US. She invites us to wonder in a big way, to orient ourselves toward our world and all the people in it with wonder. “You are not a stranger to me…you are a part of me that I do not know yet…” A stance of wonder towards that-which-is-different-from-us is a practice, a good practice.
~Dawn Peck, Board Member

Chosen by Kerri Saucier

Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

by John O’Donohue

His words return us to the dignity of silence, profundity of stillness, power of thought and perception, and the eternal grace and generosity of beauty’s presence.
~Kerri Saucier, Director of Development

Chosen by Westina Matthews

Contemplative Gardening

by Pamela Dolan

An enchanting guide for turning the art of gardening into opportunities for reflection and meditation. Contemplative Gardening makes the connection between tending to the earth and tending to our own souls, between caring for the planet and caring for one another.
~Westina Matthews, Board Member

Chosen by Westina Matthews

A Contemplative Approach to Spirituality and Sexuality”

by Matthews, Westina and Watkins, Tommie L.

Published in Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, 28 (2), 68 – 76.

This is a dynamic, contemplative approach which draws upon the rich resources of Christian contemplative tradition to influence one’s own interior life and spiritual practice to address issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, and spirituality.
~Westina Matthews, Board Member

Chosen by Marlin Good

Sacred Earth Sacred Soul

by John Philip Newell

Celtic wisdom for reawakening to what our souls know and healing the world. I was particularly moved by his chapter on John Muir. The Appendix includes a nine-day cycle of meditative awareness.
~Marlin Good, Group Spiritual Direction Workshop Adjunct Staff

Chosen by Marlin Good

Healing Collective Trauma

by Thomas Hubl

A process for integrating our intergenerational and cultural wounds. Hubl brings deep knowledge of the world’s mystical traditions together with the latest scientific research. “In this way,” writes Thomas, “we are weaving a double helix between ancient wisdom and contemporary understanding.”
~Marlin Good, Group Spiritual Direction Workshop Adjunct Staff

Chosen by Kiok Cho

Contemplative Life: Discovering Our Path into the Heart of God

by Julie Saad

It is a practical guide book for contemplative living through a formation program, ‘Contemplative Living Experience (CLE),’ based on a foundation of Centering Prayer along with other contemplative spiritual practices. People who seek to live in the heart of God in daily life may bear fruits (transformation) by practicing the CLE program in this book.
~Kiok Cho, Board Member

Chosen by Margaret Benefiel

The Awakened Brain

by Lisa Miller

Very readable page-turner (really!) about brain science and the impact that meditation has on the brain, and about meditation’s effectiveness on overcoming depression.
~Margaret Benefiel, Executive Director


Chosen by Tilden Edwards

“Love keeps walking even when carrying a heavy load. Love keeps trusting, never loses hope, and stands firm in hard times. The road of love has no end.”

Translation of I Cor. 13:7-8 in the recently published “First Nations Version: an Indigenous Translation of the New Testament.”

I think the depth of “love” is central to religious understanding and practice of contemplation.
~Tilden Edwards, Founder & Senior Fellow

Chosen by Julie Pennington-Russell

I chose Judy Brown’s poem “The Fire” because it invites me to incorporate sacred spaciousness into the minutes and hours of each day. The line “It is fuel and absence of fuel together that make fire possible” is especially meaningful to me as I attempt to practice social activism from my contemplative heart.
~Julie Pennington-Russell, Co-Director of Going Deeper: Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership Program


By Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
as we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

This poem is found in three of Judy Brown’s books: The Sea Accepts All Rivers, A Leader’s Guide to Reflective Practice and The Art and Spirit of Leadership. Poem used with permission of author.

Chosen by Stacy Rancourt

“The Guest House”

By Rumi

This poem can be read in The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.

I love the poem, “The Guest House” by Rumi. I have it hung up on my wall in my workspace, and it always brings me comfort when I take a few moments to read it.
~Stacy Rancourt, Bookkeeper


Chosen by Sarah Forti

Art to Lift the Spirits website

This is the liturgical artwork of Sue Carroll. I have used it for Visio Divina in Shalem meetings and programs.
~Sarah Forti, Co-Director of Crossing the Threshold: Contemplative Foundations for Emerging Leaders

(Art by Sue Carroll, at Art2liftspirits.com. “To You I lift up my spirit” used non-commercially with permission of artist)

Chosen by Chuck McCorkle

Light for the World

by The Poor Clares of Arundel

One of the unexpected joys to be discovered on the Assisi pilgrimage is attending vespers at the Basilica of Saint Clare. The sisters’ voices are angelic and raise the soul a little closer to heaven. This album by the Poor Clares of Arundel captures that spirit and continues to be a touchstone in my life.
~Chuck McCorkle, Co-Leader of In the Footsteps of St. Francis & St. Clare: A Pilgrimage to Assisi

(“Album trailer video is on YouTube and may contain ads.”)


Chosen by ArDonna Hamilton

Sensual Faith Podcast

by Lyvonne Briggs

Lyvonne is a Yale Divinity and Columbia Theological Seminary graduate and a body and sex positive womanist preacher of the gospel. This podcast offers wisdom on creating an embodied faith, using inspiration from Black womanist writers as a guide.
~ArDonna Hamilton, Office and Development Coordinator

Chosen by Laura Neal

Turning to the Mystics

by James Finley

In Turning to the Mystics, Jim Finley offers a modern take on the contemplative practices of Christian mystics like Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, etc., offering a deeper understanding of how their teaching can be brought into our current, everyday lives.
~Laura Neal, Board Member


Chosen by Scott Rohr


Learn to stretch in an entirely new way: Resistance stretching. The bendable body method contracts muscle groups and then stretches – this helps open and release dense, stiff fascia. More importantly, each stretch is connected to one of our meridians – confirming the mind, body, spirit wholeness/unity. Perform stretches associated with your heart meridian to complement your contemplative practice.
~Scott Rohr, Board Member

Chosen by Leah Rampy

Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox

In these times of turmoil, I follow Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox. With stories to help us claim awe and wonder even as we embrace loss and grief, Matt does not shy away from current topics such as the importance of the healthy masculine/feminine or the implications of Supreme Court decisions. Although some of what he writes is quite challenging, I find his candor refreshing, his knowledge of the mystics revealing, and his grounding in the Cosmic Christ important to me.
~Leah Rampy, Co-Leader of An Anchor for the Soul: Iona Pilgrimage

Chosen by Scott Rohr

Simple Presence

Every morning at 7:30am. Start your morning with a loving community in prayer and contemplation.
~Scott Rohr, Board Member

To receive the Zoom link for Simple Presence, send an email with “Simple Presence” in the subject line to Admin@shalemmidwestregion.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.