Retreat Day3 - Buddhist Images

The Garrison Institute is used by many contemplative religious groups for retreats and other programs. One such group are those of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The picture of fresh vegtables shows veggies grown locally and prepared for the Dali Lama's meal when he was here in 2003.

Retreat Day2: Beginner's Mind Meets Holy Omnipresence

I began today to make the gradual transition into silence. I've learned it doesn't happen overnight but it takes time to slow down physically and mentally from the normal busy pace and focus on doing, doing, doing in order to accomplish. There is nothing to accomplish here really, nothing, just consenting to what is.

It's fairly quiet given 61 retreatants. The Garrision Institute is a big place (former Christian monastery) with expansive grounds so that supports quietness. Scheduled sits increase to 3 hours tomorrow.

Today David Frenette began to teach on contemplatives attitudes. Here are, for me, a few points from his morning talk.

- The spiritual journey is me saying yes to God and God saying yes to me. What does each of those look like over time? At present? Has the ratio of the two changed over time?

- "We become contemplatives when God discovers himself in us." (Thomas Merton) - a situation where God is having a major say at the table!

- As God's presence acts in us nothing thrown away - our skils, interests, life situations, people known, etc. become medium through which "God discovers himself in us." We may return to earlier life interests, people we've know, etc. but as a different person as moved by God's transformative love.

- A teaching parenthetical prior to small group discussions: "Extroverts want to speak in order to think and introverts want to think in order to speark" - Abbot Joseph, St. Benedict's Monastery, Snowmass, CO

- spent time reviewing the guidelines of the centering prayer practice - emphasizing having a firm foundation in the basics - having a "beginners mind" always.

- God making himself know through anything, our thoughts, feelings, life situatons, desires, etc. anything.

- David asks "Who is God for me now?" i.e. what opens me?  It could be the person of Jesus, Holy Mother, nature, going to church, art, writing, anything really.  My answer: watching the water babies class at the swimming pool - "incarnatonal contemplation" if you will.

Enough for now.....

Sent from Ron's iPhone

Retreat Chronicle

I'm asked periodically what happens on extended Centering Prayer retreats. I usually mention their purpose, structure and fruits in the broadest of terms, realizing I cannot adequately convey what is unique and spiritually significant for each individual. Sometimes I mention Tom Ward's excellent description of his first retreat in Spirituality, Contemplation and Transformation: Writings on Centering Prayer (Lantern Books, 2008).

I've been attending these types of retreats for years and I'll attend one March 20-29, a 10-day intensive facilitated by David Frenette and Thomas Keating at the Garrison Institute on the Hudson River. See schedule below.

To offer a small window through which others might look and learn, I'll chronicle the retreat here on LifeSprings starting March 19. In keeping with the contemplative value of simplicity, just a few words and/or a single visual image will be shared each day of the retreat.

You're invited to visit during or after the retreat and/or share the chronicle with someone who may have asked you, "So, what happens on those retreats?" "Do you really not talk for days?

Here is the daily schedule.

6:30 am - Rise
6:45 am - (2) 30 minute periods of Centering Prayer separated by a meditative walk
8:00 – 9:00 am - Breakfast in silence
9:15 am – Session
10:45 am - (2) 30 minute periods of Centering Prayer separated by meditative walk
12:00 – 1:00 pm - Lunch in silence
3:30 pm – Session (Presentation & Guided Meditation)
4:45 pm - (2) 30 minute periods of Centering Prayer separated by a meditative walk
6:00 – 7:00 pm - Supper in silence
7:30 pm – Optional Session (with Questions and Answers)