Hello Contemplative Friends,

What does contemplation have to do with heat domes, atmospheric rivers, landslides, clearcuts and forest fires? How do we, as contemplatives, weave the suffering and luminosity of our planet into our daily practice in a way that is real? What is our part in the much-called-for transformation of collective human and more-than-human consciousness?

The Board of The Contemplative Society, in our Wisdom Circle last fall, discerned that part of our work would be to connect the depth of our practice to the depth of our concerns about the incarnational world. As part of that discernment, we decided to start introducing teachers who could help us make that connection in our own spirtual lives and in our community.

In this newsletter, you’ll find the first fruits of that work: the announcement of a one-day, online workshop on July 23rd with the scholar, author and retreat leader Douglas Christie. Douglas has been walking the path of ecological contemplation ever since he began studying the Desert Fathers and Mothers decades ago. His most recent book, The Insurmountable Darkness of Love: Mysticism, Loss, and the Common Life, explores how attention to the mystical experience of darkness can help us respond to the losses of our common, contemporary life. The workshop Douglas will offer us will invite us into loving and caring for the particular place where we are—this physical reality—as contemplative practice.

We would like to encourage those of you who normally meet with a group to meditate, whether online or in real life, to consider signing up for this workshop together. Building community to hold the work we do—especially this work of connecting our sorrow about climate suffering with our contemplative tradition—will help us become the post holders that the world so desperately needs.

Therese DesCamp,

The Contemplative Society

Cultivating a Sense of Place:

Contemplative Ecology in a Time of Loss

There is a deep and fundamental connection that exists between place and human identity.

As the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset once said:
“Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are.”

If, in fact, place does shape identity, what happens to our identities—our sense of meaning, our sense of God, our relationship to the world around us—when the places we inhabit are lost or degraded?

  • How do we cultivate a sense of wholeness and integrity, when the world we inhabit is radically impacted by climate crises?
  • What do we lose?
  • How should we respond?
  • What contemplative practices can help us to reconnect to that wholeness that utterly permeates the fragmentation and loss?
This mini-retreat with Douglas Christie will focus on these and other related questions, teaching contemplative practices grounded in the reality of our own physical settings, deepening our sense of place, and drawing us into stronger ethical commitments to caring for the places we love.

The Retreat Leader:

Douglas Christie.jpg

Douglas E. Christie received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, his M.A. from Oxford University and his Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He has been awarded fellowships from the Luce Foundation, the Lilly Foundation and the NEH. From 2013-2015 he served as Co-director of the Casa de la Mateada study abroad program in Córdoba, Argentina. His primary research interests focus on contemplative thought and practice in ancient and medieval Christianity and on spirituality and ecology. He is the author of The Word in The Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism (Oxford), The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Note for a Contemplative Ecology (Oxford), and is the founding editor of Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality (Johns Hopkins). His work has appeared in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality, The Cambridge Companion to Christian Mysticism, Horizons, Cross Currents, The Anglican Theological Review, Weavings, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Studia Patristica, The Best Spiritual Writing, and Orion. His current work is focused on the idea of mystical darkness and the contemporary sense of exile, loss and emptiness.

Cultivating a Sense of Place: 

Contemplative Ecology in a Time of Loss

A Zoom Retreat with Douglas Christie


July 23, 2022

10 am to Noon,
1:30 pm to 3 pm
(Pacific Time)

Hosted by The Contemplative Society
in association with Earth Literacies and Canadian Memorial UC

Registration CAN $40.00

Not able to attend the live Zoom Retreat? The Retreat will be recorded and registrants will receive the recording after the event is completed.

Financial assistance available through the TCS bursary fund by request to

Thank You for your Support!

It is only with the support of our members and community that we are able to do what Cynthia calls “good planetary work”: providing support and resources for contemplative practitioners around the world and helping to promote the work done by local and international teachers. Our deepest thanks to all who have donated and support this work!

TCS is a non-profit society run by a volunteer Board and a dedicated circle of contemplatives. Formed in Victoria BC Canada in 1997 to serve an emerging contemplative renewal and to support and spread the teachings of Cynthia Bourgeault and other distinguished Wisdom teachers.
We would love for you to join us as a member and to help sustain and build our offerings with a donation of any amount.
 Please visit our website to find out more: