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A Benedictine Wisdom Lived: Wisdom Practitioners Share an Exercise in Immediacy

Cynthia Comes to Glastonbury Abbey for a Day of Reflection… Set on a gentle hill, a long winding driveway approaches a seasoned stone and wood monastery building with the Abbey Church of Our Lady of Glastonbury perched at the end. Beyond, the road narrows and heads down to the chicken and goat barn. The monks pray and chant the psalms in the Benedictine rhythm five times daily, in a chapel that breathes both with the tall pines surrounding it and with its simple, elegant interior. It is adorned with the stations of the cross, a two-sided crucifix, and icon of Benedict all created by artist Tomie dePalo. A feeling of peace and stillness, a sense of quiet fullness, pervades. Nightly, the monks gather around a stunning round icon of Our Lady of Glastonbury to sing before sleep. The grounds include an herb garden and woodland labyrinth, a stone fountain with Mary offering blessing, and a gazebo as well as outdoor stations of the cross and beautiful places to walk, stop and sit. Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham Massachusetts sits just two miles south and three miles west of the Massachusetts Bay of the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Boston. It was

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Thomas Keating: An Interspiritual Celebration ~ and Online Public Video Archive

With extraordinary joy and gratitude I offer these words of welcome to the wonderful feast now laid before you: the complete video archive of our groundbreaking Thomas Keating interspiritual celebration, which took place at the Aspen Chapel last July 13 and 14 — and of which, I am proud to say, Northeast Wisdom was one of the principal sponsors. You may view the eight videos of the event through the link at the end of this blog post. The purpose of the gathering was to honor Thomas Keating’s remarkable interspiritual legacy and to inquire more deeply together how to move forward in its light into the challenging and uncertain times now facing our planet. In both of these goals, the gathering far exceeded our expectations. In fact, it blew us all away. Fr. Thomas Keating–Trappist monk, principal architect of Centering Prayer, and interspiritual pioneer–died on October 25, 2018, leaving behind not only a living treasury of his own final teachings about the emergence into unity consciousness from a Christian perspective, but more significantly, the fruit of that emergence: his continued robust energetic presence among us as an ongoing teacher and guide. I became aware of that presence very powerfully toward

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With the Desert Fathers and Mothers: A Wisdom School Sung in Three Voices

What follows is an article on the Desert Fathers and Mothers retreat that Cynthia Bourgeault led in Tucson Arizona in the winter of 2018. Beautifully crafted by Jo Taylor for the Northeast Wisdom website, with experiential notes from Heather Ruce's retreat journal and Quaker Chantmaster Paulette Meier's reflections, their three voices come together to share the song of those ancient Wisdom teachers and their sayings as they come alive in us today.   Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything. ~ Abba Moses   First Evening: I Enter the Desert I arrive and immediately I am activated. I am aware of the old narratives creeping in and I feel somewhat small. How am I going to do this? I begin to see so many familiar faces of love and I settle down. I belong here, these are my people. After our first meeting I reflect. My insecurities are emerging, my beasts if you will. I know these beasts, they are not unfamiliar, they are old friends. They are full of doubt. They tell me I am behind, that I still have so much work to do, that I am too much, I’m being dramatic, people

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New Arising Index: Recording Quaker Chants with Paulette Meier

On my way to Ohio last weekend I had a layover in Philadelphia. My first flight had been delayed and with about 12 minutes to get from E terminal to B terminal, I got off the plane and took off sprinting. Not altogether the serene mystical picture I had conjured to begin a four-day trip to record a Quaker chant album with the incomparable Paulette! But that’s when I ran right by our friend Jeanine Siler-Jones, God bless her. As I was flying from one gate to another I looked over and there she was. Without slowing down I kept looking at her and then she glanced up and our eyes locked across the concourse and we burst into waving and laughing smiles and I knew the whole shindig was already well-in-hand.  I’ve never been to Ohio and I admit I thought it was a long flat stretch of farm from one end to the other. But then Nick Weiland picked me up from Columbus airport (I made my connection!) and took me on a drive through a beautiful rolling countryside down wooded country lanes to the beautiful property he and his wife Molly keep, tucked deep into a forest.

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Meditations on a Death Transmission

For my beautifully steadfast mother, Adele Teague: Thank you for helping me cross over the many arduous death-wombs that could have swallowed me whole (Jeremiah 1:5).   Death comes to us all. It’s the great equalizer. No, it is the great begetter of the mysterious unknown - uniting both you and me. We may not logically frame it so, but we sense death everywhere. Throughout everything, its siren call emerges. Decomposing matter remains the arbitrary awe and function of our everyday existences. Life is fleeting and therefore trivial; this is what they say. Death turns us into the waste of what we might have known and the people we may have yet become. If only things were different. If never we’ve accepted the immaculate grace of love in this one and only world we know, then surely the earth swallows us up into its disintegrating pit of sod and soil. Six feet under. Oh, how it loves to recycle us! We bend to the forcible will of an impermanence that cares not for how we cling to relative personal comforts for our illusions of immortality. In legacy building and the overall minutia of our perceived accomplishments, we erect vanity monuments

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The Law of Three as Spiritual Practice

In January of this year, twenty-two of us gathered in Bethlehem PA, for a Law of Three as Spiritual Practice Wisdom School. We came together from Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Toronto, Vermont, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Held in a rhythm of a traditional Wisdom school, this Wisdom School offered a very 'practical teaching' of the Law of Three with daily break out times for small groups to explore how to apply the Law of Three within our own lives. Working with an experienced 'anchoring facilitator', each group of three or four people engaged current life happenings, working together with the map of the Law of Three as the lens. In 2013 Cynthia Bourgeault published The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity. The following year Marcella Kraybill- Greggo attended a Wisdom School where Cynthia unpacked her book, highlighting key teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. The “Law of Three” refers to an assertion that every phenomenon is a new arising that comes into being through three distinct lines of action. The first force is holy affirming, the second force holy denying, and third force holy reconciling. This teaching posits that the Law of Three is

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A Call to Prayer as a Wisdom Collective: A South Bend Parable

Dear Wisdom Community, I feel like I am caught in what a member of my Law of Three group called “a Parable”. I wonder if others might be called to meet me here in service of, oh, maybe nothing less than …Wisdom in our nation. Call it the South Bend, Indiana Parable, which this week is a story of a police shooting, white on black, that occurred right down the street from where I live. And, this HAPPENS to come in the middle of our mayor, Pete Buttigieg's, booming presidential campaign and thus it becomes a national story, which of course it already is. Our local story=our national story. For background see my blog of this morning, Violence, Racism, and Presidential Politics. My Law of Three group helped me see the triangle, and with the triangle, the possibility of “new arising.” Affirming force: the cries, the screams for justice. Denying force: the FUTILITY of all efforts so far on the part of the mostly white establishment at correcting either overt or underlying problems and so the violence (white on black, black on black etc.) keeps happening and even escalating. I told the Law of Three group that the only thing

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Bruno Barnhart’s Movement IV: The Global (Postmodern) Turn

I loved this chapter!—particularly the way it weaves together and synthesizes the voices of Teilhard de Chardin, Ewert Cousins, and Karl Rahner—each of them pointing in their own way (planetization, a 2nd Axial age, and the "world church") to a truly universal, incarnate, global understanding of Christian spirituality.  Wow!  I’ll share a few words by way of summary here, before our Zoom book study group meets this Friday… but know that they're rushed and inadequate to the wonders Fr. Bruno actually unfolds in these final pages. In this fourth movement, Fr. Bruno explores Teilhard’s vision of a coming human unity: in Teilhard’s words, “there is only one way in which the tide can flow: the way of ever-increasing unification”… the present “social in-folding” is simply an extension of the “process of cosmic in-folding which gave birth to the first cell and the first thought on earth.”  Barnhart points to the ways in which large scale human tragedies and disasters (the two World Wars, for example) “rather than fracturing and dispersing humanity, have forced it more tightly together.”  We can only hope our current climate crisis will do the same.  There is an insistence here that there is no ultimate going

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A Virtual Holy Week Retreat: The Call and The Response

[caption id="attachment_4631" align="alignleft" width="387"] Looking Down the Ravine[/caption] It was an out-of-the-box idea, but one that I thought was worth trying—a virtual Holy Week retreat. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this would interest so many—and from all over the world. Providing three recordings each day as well as a Zoom gathering that broke participants up into small groups, this online program provided choices for participants based on their needs and their time availability. This successful first run will be followed by future programs—even Wisdom Schools—online. Also, this Holy Week program will return next year and will be expanded into a full Lenten retreat. Stay tuned! Rather than try to explain the intricacies of the week, let me instead share some of the results. Bill and Sarah said, "Our journey through Holy Week with you was breathtaking, even from the Imaginal. The day before the week began, I was in the car, listening to Bill Bryson’s account of climbing Mt. Washington, including his description of emerging at the summit, exhausted, to find all the auto-road tourists. The very next day I’m back on Mt. Washington with you!  "There is so much to comment on. I was going

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No Question: A Pilgrimage to India with Rev. Matthew Wright and Br. Aidan Owen, OHC

Thousands of questions are silenced as if dissolved. There are neither doctrines nor heresies. The possibilities are endless, [living] creatively in me. ~ Paul Klee, 1916   Chennai, the city we used to call Madras, splays itself along the southeastern edge of India, fully exposed to the surging foam of the Bay of Bengal. We arrived on the festival of Pongal, lights whirling, colours strewn, bonfires glowing in the night forests like perforations to the earth’s inner core. India. Massive, effervescing, filled with a life energy that cannot be easily quieted. The first day some of us picked our way across hot sand to the shore where cows were not altogether happy about their baths in the sucking waves, ablutions to give festal thanks for the growing season’s first fruits. [caption id="attachment_4583" align="alignnone" width="375"] Cows Bathing in Preparation for Pongal Festivities[/caption]   Each of us had our reasons to join Rev. Matthew Wright and Br. Aidan Owen, OHC, on this pilgrimage to the land of St. Thomas, Ramana Maharshi, and Fr. Bede Griffiths. There in Tamil Nadu, South India, we would sit before Thomas’s tomb and climb into the cave where the apostle lived and taught; we would rest at

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