“Mary Oliver and Thomas Merton, Contemplative Poets of Attention and Mindfulness”
Reflecting on a close reading of selected poems by Mary Oliver and Thomas Merton, participants receive mentoring in the “spiritual exercises” that give significance to the smallest events of daily life. This retreat has proved to be among the most popular that I offer.
“The School of Experience: Thomas Merton’s Teaching on Sustaining Contemplative Relationships”
Merton taught his monastic novices to pray by “entering the school of their own experience”. Participants reflect on Merton’s guidance in initiating and maintaining significant relationships with others as “spiritual exercises” of gratitude for the mediation of others in their own lives which, in turn, initiates responsibility for mediating “God’s will” for the lives of others.
“Dialogues with Silence: Thomas Merton’s Reflections on Contemplative Prayer”
The last book that Merton prepared for publication prior to his death was The Climate of Monastic Prayer, now published in new editions as Contemplative Prayer. Reflecting on his teachings in this “last testament”, participants examine the role of silence and solitude as key elements in an environment that sustains personal, contemplative prayer.
“Pilgrimage and Contemplation: Walking the ‘Way of Saint James” in France and Spain”
Having walked (2012) the five hundred mile pilgrims’ route from Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port, at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains in France, to Santiago de Compostela, I bring my personal experience, together with Thomas Merton’s reflections, on the value of pilgrimage in transforming a more vibrant and joyful experience of everyday life.
“Loving Winter When The Plant Says Nothing: Thomas Merton and the Contemplative Experience of Suffering and Preparing for Death”
Participants reflect together on Merton’s teachings on the role of suffering in the contemplative life. We examine the role of remembering one’s death as an important monastic practice to instigate being fully alive and awake in our everyday lives. This retreat is not, like old age is not, for sissies.
“Contemplative Living in Our Third Age”
I have designed this retreat for persons over sixty who wish to endow the final “third age” of their lives with significance and joy. Participants reflect on reflections from Mary Oliver, Thomas Merton, Carlo Strenger (The Fear of Insignificance), and Reza Arasteh (Final Integration in the Adult Personality).
“Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton”
Participants reflect on the role of contemplative living in Merton’s teaching on the spiritual life. We examine the key elements of the “inner work” necessary to lead a contemplative life that is marked by courage, honesty, generosity, and joy.