Dear Friends and Members of the The Contemplative Society,
Mercy. An old-fashioned word that conjures up so many contrasting images. Mercy is “a bond,” writes Cynthia Bourgeault in Mystical Hope, “an infallible link of love that holds the created and uncreated realms together.” Far from condescension or political power, the origin of the word mercy points instead to a flow of connectedness, reciprocity, and exchange.
Mercy is the great weaver that binds us together. With your assistance we will continue to work on the tapestry of conscious belonging, connectedness, and reciprocity – the binding love – that our world so needs.
Your ongoing support of The Contemplative Society is especially important this Advent. For many years, we have been grateful recipients of annual resources. A number of those resources are no longer available, and we are increasingly dependent on you, our donors, to help fund our work of supporting and teaching Wisdom Christianity.
Kindling a Light in the Darkness
Strengthening our members’ experience of connectedness and belonging has become a growing centre of the TCS mandate during this year of turmoil. Our first online event was an example of how we are adapting. In a late summer Zoom retreat, beloved teacher Matthew Wright led a hundred of us with his characteristic intimacy and heartfulness. Together we chanted, meditated, and studied fourteenth-century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, whom Matthew described as the “patron saint of sheltering in place.” Especially poignant were Julian’s teachings on the transformation of brokenness and helplessness to awakening love. Participants were so enthusiastic that we have been encouraged to offer more virtual retreats.
This time of in-between has prompted us to develop a closer connection to sister associations. Many of you know that The Contemplative Society is the seedbed organization that helped launch Cynthia Bourgeault in her work to revitalize Wisdom Christianity. Since the 1990’s, we have watched with delight as communities have sprung up in many of the places where Cynthia has taught. Nearly twenty-five years later, we are now in discussion with like-minded contemplative groups such as Northeast Wisdom (soon to be Wisdom Waypoints) to collaborate in providing resources for a flourishing global network of Wisdom Christianity. By decreasing duplication of our collective work, we will be able to do more together to foster steadiness and compassion in an uncertain world.
This Advent signals the Board’s movement towards encouraging local leadership, contemplative circles, and retreats throughout the Pacific West region, while continuing to provide opportunities to learn from well-known teachers like Cynthia Bourgeault, Matthew Wright, Ward Bauman, and David Frenette.
A Vibrant and Responsive Community
“During these days when it’s hard to know what we can actually do for each other,” she and her local contemplative group have been practicing remotely to enkindle “the dialysis machine of which Cynthia has spoken: breathing in the suffering of the world into our own deepest heart, which is the heart of Christ, and breathing out compassion.”
Jennifer, another TCS member, similarly depicts community connectedness in her online Centering Prayer meetings with others from Ontario, England, and British Columbia. She writes,
“We are an improbable gathering, but a COVID-induced blessing. With the intensity of isolation now stretching over many months our holy and healing space in contemplation has strengthened my practice and given true solace – like a deep, clear pool of water.”
Brian also writes of the healing power of communion:
“I now trust more than ever in the connective tissue that I have with my contemplative community – within The Contemplative Society and in the world at large. No matter how alone this little old self may sometimes feel, I know more fully now that my ‘Real I’ is never alone.”
Henri Lock, President