At the Spiritual Life Center, we have begun another two year period during which sixteemn individuals will discover who they are as spiritual companions (spiritual directors). By the Spirit's power, they will develop the gifts of deep listening, evocative response, empathy, understanding, wisdom, and knowledge. But before they learn anything else, we will encourage them to develop a contemplative awareness of Life.
In contemplation we let our minds and hearts grow quiet. We take a “long, loving look at the real”(1). We allow the inner essence of things to reveal itself to us. “The experience of the Sacred unfolds before us and within us”(2). The way of Spiritual Companioning is a contemplative way.
Does one need to become a certified spiritual companion in order to follow a contemplative path? Absolutely not! In fact, all the members of the Spiritual Life Center Community, newcomers and wise elders, directees and directors, friends and volunteers, are invited to nurture a contemplative attitude toward one another and toward Life. There are so many places in society where peaceful awareness is lacking. What a wonderful gift such a community is to ourselves and to the world!
Now let me say a little more about the Internship. As you might imagine, we begin every class with prayer. This can include one or more of the following: silence, music, song, evocative objects, and poetry. Over the years, one of the poets we have heard from many times is Mary Oliver. Let me give you an example of her art:
When I am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
The poetry of Mary Oliver has much to teach us about contemplative awareness. Come discover how this is so. Join us for a small group experience in the Anam Cara room at the Spiritual Life Center. We will meet on four consecutive Thursdays from 1:30 to 3 PM. The dates are 9/22, 9/29, 10/6, and 10/13. Attendance at all four sessions is recommended, but not required.
At each meeting, we will learn something about contemplation, and something about Mary Oliver. We will spend much of our time savoring her poetry and discussing how it helps us to be contemplative. We will be using the book
New and Selected Poems, Volume One
, which is available from Amazon for less than $10. Don DaRos and Oscar Brockmeyer will be the co-leaders. A free-will offering to support the work of the Center will be gratefully accepted. We hope you can join us. An RSVP is helpful, but not necessary.
And remember, whatever path you're on, you are welcome here.
Rev Oscar Brockmeyer
Leader, Spiritual Companion Programs
Spiritual Life Center
(1) Walter Burghardt
(2) Mike Smoolca