Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Centering Prayer Retreat Experience

Greetings Spiritual Friends! I wanted to share some of my experiences from a Centering Prayer retreat I led this past weekend. This was my first attempt at overseeing a workshop on CP, and I am happy to report that we had an excellent day. We started off with a review of the CP process and some discussion about the dynamics of performing CP in a group setting. We were in consensus that a group experience was much different from an individual one. Most described sensing a more "powerful" experience when praying together. However, we had a hard time explaining why, but I guess that's to be expected!

After lunch, I introduced the group to individual lectio divina journaling. This was a big hit with my group. I gave them two passages and 45 minutes to spend with one or both of the passages. I thought this would be the weakest link in the program, but a very healthy discussion evolved afterwards in which the group commented on their preference for this mode of lectio over the group model with which they were familiar. They enjoyed the process of writing their responses to the first 3 stages of the practice.

I found this article just a few days before the retreat which is entitled "Collaboration as a Quality of Contemplative Leadership"

I used it as a springboard into a deeper discussion about contemplation as a work of the church.

Tilden's remarks on Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity caught my attention. I made a connection between his train of thought and Merton's ideas on contemplation and social action. If our practice of kenosis is not coupled with a process of theosis which leads us toward collaboration with God in the transformation of the world, then is our practice really worth much? (Hearing Rev. Harold Middlebrook speak on Martin Luther King, Jr. this past week was also beneficial!)

I appreciate you all and look forward to hearing your reactions!


RC said...

Mark, the retreat day sounds great, and it sounds like God really helped you in preparing and leading it. Thank you for sharing Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity--it's beautiful. Your question at the end of the post is both inspiring and challenging: "If our practice of kenosis is not coupled with a process of theosis which leads us toward collaboration with God in the transformation of the world, then is our practice really worth much?" May God continue to help us in collaborating with him and being faithful in the work of transformation! Thank you so much for this post.

living stones said...

Dear Mark,

Centering prayer retreats are gifts, and I’m delighted the folks in Tennessee had you for their leader. I believe it was grace filled event.

Really, what an encouraging report this is for all of us. I was particularly struck by the positive feedback you received from the lectio divina journaling. It seems like an extremely valuable practice to help us get our minds into our hearts so that we can be made whole or complete, “of one mind with Christ,” ready for right service. And to answer Merton’s question, I think our action, then led by God’s spirit, would naturally flow from that spacious place.

Thanks so much for sharing, and we look forward to hearing more as God continues to work in and through you.

Blessings, Anna

Daniel said...

Mark, thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like you were able to practice, in a small way, the "mutual indwelling" and "collaboration" reflected in Rublev's icon through the the practices and dialogue of your retreat. Hopefully this is the the first of many that you are able to facilitate.

Paul Corrigan said...

So much that is wonderful here, the retreat, the essay, the icon.

In the essay you link to, I particularly like this bit about authority: "Each of us is called to be an authority, an 'author' of creative love at different times in different situations. . . . At such times the 'leadings' of the Spirit draw us to speak and act in ways that open called-for possibilities of collaborative vision and action." This is a refreshing and beautiful way of talking about how we are called to mutually influence one another.

Thank you for sharing.

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