You might not recognise her name, but without her, The Contemplative Society wouldn’t exist. You might not have access to audio teachings, Wisdom Schools, or a community of contemplatives to reach out to for support. When hearing the name “Cynthia Bourgeault,” you might respond, “Cynthia who?” Or worse, you wouldn’t hear the name at all.
But rather than entertaining those dark thoughts, we get to celebrate! And the person who deserves our praise and gratitude was Margaret Haines, the first president of The Contemplative Society. Cynthia lauds her as her “mentor and midwife…Virtually everything I have learned, accomplished, and brought into being, I owe to her.” The contemplative community is also indebted to her as it was her belief that the contemplative path ought to be available to anyone seeking it, her work that laid the foundation for The Contemplative Society to become a hub for contemplative practice and learning opportunities. Along with our connection to Cynthia, she’s one of the main reasons we now serve a spiritually diverse global family today.
Retreats are central to this story, the containers in which the contemplative community is forged, and the places where new perspectives on the tradition emerge – Cynthia often gets her ideas from the alchemy that occurs on retreat, like her idea to walk the Enneagram. Additionally, our students replenish their capacity for practice, contributing to the transmission of contemplative Wisdom and the evolution of human consciousness. The in-person hands-on experience is invaluable to the community. But retreats are expensive, and the expense limits the pool to which contemplative Wisdom can be transmitted. That’s why The Contemplative Society offers as many scholarships as possible for retreats.
But don’t take it from me – take it from one of our scholarship recipients. In 2014, Meagan, a young mother of small children, was able to attend Cynthia’s retreat on The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three thanks to financial support. Without that support, she wouldn’t have walked the Enneagram where “the energy built until I could feel it ripple across my palms and scalp. It made me think of the law of world creation and the Law of Three and I wondered at what we had loosed into the world by our collective action.” That same year, Meagan helped found a new-monastic community that is still thriving today.
It’s because of experiences like these, and the feedback we got in our recent membership survey, that we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary by establishing the Margaret Haines Scholarship Fund. It honours what Margaret did for us, and strengthens our community’s ability to transmit contemplative Wisdom long into the future.
So while celebrating our 20th anniversary is a time for reflection and saying “thank you” to those who carried us here through leadership, donations, and volunteering, it’s also a time to look ahead. I hope you will join me in making a special contribution to the Margaret Haines Scholarship Fund as your birthday present to The Contemplative Society and to contemplatives of the future. Our past is a bright one – let’s keep that light going for another 20 years.
~ Henri Lock, vice-president of The Contemplative Society and
United Church chaplain, University of Victoria
We are celebrating our 20th anniversary and to honour our past and invest in our future, we’ve established the Margaret Haines Scholarship Fund. Our goal is to raise $5000 to increase the accessibility of contemplative practice and learning opportunities for those who face financial barriers. Invest in a contemplative future today by visiting contemplative.org/campaign!