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?
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?
The Retreat Leader:
Douglas E. Christie 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 retreat Douglas will offer us will invite us into loving and caring for the particular place where we are—this physical reality—as contemplative practice.
He 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
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