Off We Go!

Cynthia Bourgeaut Dear friends,

Welcome to our brand new Contemplative Society blogspot! All morning as I’ve pondered about how best to launch this initial post, I find myself wondering what Thomas Merton would have done if this technology had been available to him. I chuckle to think of him sitting there in his little cinder block hermitage swapping comments with correspondents all over the world in instant cyber-style. Somehow I think he’d be right at home.

There are a number of ways we can go with this blogspot, of course. I first suggested it to my wonderful friends in The Contemplative Society as a way of increasing the interactivity of our website, and of keeping in touch with you all at a tempo a bit faster than just those semi-annual membership letters.  Certainly I’ll be hoping to keep better in touch with you all by posting accounts of some of my travel and teaching adventures and developments on both the personal and spiritual fronts. This winter, for example, I am looking forward to finally being able to clear the decks for six weeks of solitude in my little hermitage on Eagle Island. I’ll hope to be able to take you along on some of this journey (can you believe, my off-the-grid island nonetheless has satellite internet?), and to share meanderings and milestones if any.

And yes, there are things I’d like to share with you, reflections on this and that, and even rants to get off my chest. When the spirit moves me—and if I can ever find my way back to that old poet and artist in me—I’m hoping to share some of those inner meanderings, to date largely confined within the pages of my journals. It’s like finding another voice in me, long misplaced in the left-brainedness of task-oriented writing, and easing into a different way of being with you all.

But what I have always loved best is to respond to direct questions. It’s easier than having to come up with topics myself, and it gives the assurance that at least a few of you will be directly interested in what I have to say. So as I gather myself for this foray into blogging, I’d like to begin by asking you all what you’d like to hear from me. Personal news? Spiritual teachings and tidbits? Answers to direct queries? Simply scroll down below and post what you’d find most useful to peruse on this blogsite. I’ll try to accommodate. And thanks for your suggestions!

Off we go!

With blessings,


47 replies
  1. Joanna Percival
    Joanna Percival says:

    I am an interested to hear whatever you want to share from your own Silence and Listening.
    Having heard you speak in London on probably the hottest day of the year in a room without air conditioning
    but sensing you were just simply present in a clear bell kind of a way the whole time, I marvelled at your ‘presence’
    and would like to keep my own practise moving towards that.

    with love
    Joanna (Revd)

  2. Selinde Krayenhoff
    Selinde Krayenhoff says:

    Further to what I heard you say at the recent Wisdom School in Tucson about spiritual direction being important, could you please say more about this? Is it simply important to have a spiritual director for accountability and transparency, and/or, is it important to have a “good” spiritual director? What is the purpose of spiritual direction as you see it?
    I look forward to your answer.
    Thank you!

  3. Michael DeBaets
    Michael DeBaets says:

    You’ve hinted about your visit to Cappadocia. If I remember correctly, you saw a painting or a mosaic there that depicted Christ as performing shaktipat – direct transmission of His very own substance.

    What else did you find there? You mentioned that you might write what you found into a book. This completely intrigued me and if it was well argued could really ramp up the argument from Holy Tradition for the legitimacy of Wisdom schools.

    Would you share some of what you learned there? even if it’s not book-length?
    Quite grateful,

  4. Joe Craft
    Joe Craft says:

    Is Jesus teaching us that the way to have the Kingdom of Heaven in this life, as well as the next is by not clinging to things like property, career, family, ideas, past achievements, and even religious traditions?

  5. Jean Crane
    Jean Crane says:

    Dear Cynthia,

    Just posted on Facebook (which I seldom do) about how happy I am to have discovered your new blog. I just finished your book, “The Wisdom Jesus” which is so insightful — amazing! I’ve introduced it to all my friends. I’ve also signed up for your Contemplative Prayer class on the web.

    So much abundance!


  6. Pam Moore
    Pam Moore says:

    Dear Cynthia,
    Thank you so much for the past 10 days of saturation, contemplation and centering prayer.
    I have two very distinct request for you.

    First please comment more on the Beloved Companion perspective and the troubadour that was traveling with you in France and other pertinent names you mentioned in our discussion Sunday after services.

    Holding the tension and space that is your work to build bridges form the established forms to new content and possibilities that we must hold how does the Judas element fit in to the alchemy of change?
    I am keenly aware of some deep Mystrey in my experience about communion and a deeply held overwhelm of feelings that doesn’t allow me to participate in the ritual that somehow I suspect relates to Judas.

    Please forgive my writing lack of style and see to my deeper question…

    Thank you, with much love and respect,
    Pam Moore

  7. Alan MacKenzie
    Alan MacKenzie says:

    All hail Cynthia and her gracious ways! Thank you for allowing those of us on the “wisdom journey” to travel with you, dearest sister!
    With your sage words still ringing in my ears, from our silent / teaching retreat in Auckland last April, I find myself leaping with the joy of the Lord at your latest outreach… and can not wait to see you again at your “Wisdom School” scheduled for October 2012 in NC!!
    Like those before me, I await any and all “manna from heaven” given to us who wait upon God. And to those who have ears, let them hear the heartbeat of God in Cynthia’s bold teachings.
    Thank you for your marvellous teachings, precious Anawim! I just recieved by post your 11 CD-set enitled “ASSISI PILGRIMAGE: Journey to the Heart of St. Francis and St. Claire” as a Christmas gift. I can’t wait until the day, when I can become another “Poverello” like Francis… those ‘poor of spirit’ looking to be enriched and shown the inner meaning of the life of poverty, chastity and obedience as an embodiment of the “Wisdom Way”.
    Blessings to you, Cynthia, and to all in the CS who assist in this superb endeavour! Alan

  8. Elizabeth Daniels
    Elizabeth Daniels says:

    Hi Cynthia,
    I would also love to ask you the questions that come to me from others as well as myself as I co-facilitate a centering prayer group.
    No.1 question is, what precicely is the sacred glance and breath in the context of the centering prayer method?
    Much love,

  9. bridget
    bridget says:

    Hi Cynthia.
    Great to hear about the blog.
    When is the wisdom school coming to Ireland?

  10. Carole Pentony
    Carole Pentony says:

    Hi, Cynthia, I am interested in all three of the topics you suggested, and thank you and those who have replied for creating this gift of new community.

    By way of background, I have done Centering Prayer since 1991 and read you since 2005 – Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, The Meaning of Mary Magdalen, and articles such as Centering Prayer as Witnessing Practice. I have a special interest in the Welcoming Practice and appreciate your foundational work and refinements on that, as well.

    You have been most kind, and clear, in answering my e-mail queries. I look forward to hearing more from you in this medium, taking it to Silence, and emerging as a fresh creation, which always happens for me with your teaching.

    Blessings, Carole in Houston.

  11. Diane Walker
    Diane Walker says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere: so great to have you here! I’m looking forward to hearing about your travels (yes, Susan, I agree: more on France would be lovely!); would love to learn about wherever your thoughts and readings and encounters with the other Wise Ones of the world are taking you internally as well…

  12. Lisa Whitlow
    Lisa Whitlow says:

    Cynthia –
    Thank you so much for taking us along on your journey!! I was just pondering Logion 21 in the Gospel of Thomas and wishing for your input on the “lords (plural!) of creation.” Perhaps this kind of inquiry would be helpful in this blog – understanding that there are no short answers!

  13. JohnB aka Anamchara
    JohnB aka Anamchara says:


    I have just finished your magnum opus on Mary Magdalene – It blessed me beyond words – I was born on her Feast Day (old calendar) and thus feel a special affinity for her beyond the mere spiritual. I am from “down under” and sadly cannot get to your North American retreats.

    However, I have a question for you. It is inspired by your treatment of the Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Mary Magdalene. It is one of these famous “hypotheticals” and goes something like this:

    “What if Paul had never existed (and hence no Pauline literature to consider for the NT Canon), and the Jerusalem-based Semitic “wisdom-school” (within which Jesus moved) had been responsible for the formation of the NT Canon (& not the Pauline-Imperial European Church) …. what shape would this subsequent NT Canon have developed into? And would these three Gospels have made into this Canon?”

    And with this different Canon, would there have been any room for the Intellectual, Rationalistic Pagan Hellenism that crept into the European Church after its extensive, bur not totally thoroughgoing treatment of Marcion?

    Perhaps this might form the basis of another book by you???


  14. Cheryl Strand
    Cheryl Strand says:

    Hi. I am possibly one of those “heartbroken Christians” you refer to! About 25 years ago I “fell in love” with the person of Jesus while reading Albert Nolan’s book, “Jesus Before Christianity”. At the time I was full of arguments against the church, faith, religion etc but found myself inexplicably putting these arguments to a priest, who lent me the book. My heart was, quite literally, “blown open”! That moment lying on my bed was for me the moment of “tauba”, the turning of the heart. However, this was the beginning of a very painful, even traumatic, journey as I tried to live this love within the institution of the church. It proved impossible and after about 7 years of intense exploration and struggle I left the church, vowing never to have anything to do with any “spiritual” grouping ever again. For years I kept myself to myself – until a Sufi sheikh found me (there is no other way to put it!). I now try to live my connection to this Sufi tradition and my teacher, and know I am where I belong. Interestingly, my dreams are still sometimes full of Christian images and the love in my heart for Jesus remains. I am still struggling a bit to integrate these “Christian” experiences, even as I know that somehow, somewhere, mysteriously, it is all one. I would be interested to hear you on the links between what you call transformative “self-emptying love” and the Sufi path of love, longing and devotion. Reading your book on Mary Magdalene I was sometimes struck by similarities (and differences) between the “Fifth Way” path you describe there and the very Sufi experience of the link of love, “heart to heart, soul to soul”, between a Sufi wayfarer and his/her teacher, which takes the wayfarer beyond the ego to union with the Beloved, and beyond (into what you call “singlessness”?). Sufism is sometimes referred to as “the original wisdom”, and your writings seem to me to be rooted in this “original wisdom” too…
    Thank you for your writings. For me, reading you has been SUCH a relief!

  15. Dana Bush
    Dana Bush says:

    Cynthia – I hope you won’t be overwhelmed with questions. I’ve often thought I’d like to ask for your thoughts long after a retreat, so I shall treasure this.
    My question – How does one find balance in life when one is pulled to God, and yet also pulled to a career (as well as having a famiy, a job etc.). I have returned to art school, but find it difficult to meditate because of the workload. Yet meditation is what grounds my art. I sometimes feel that art school is terribly self indulgent, that I should just focus on God, and yet… I am pulled to art. I am sure that there are others in this spot. Any thoughts? Dana from Calgary

  16. Rick Mickelson
    Rick Mickelson says:

    Cynthia—Thanks for your wonderful first blog – I really enjoyed reading it. I did a Centering Prayer Workshop with Rev. Page and his wife about a year ago. My question is:– I find that the more comfortable I am in taking up a position for meditation, the more profound the contemplation. This includes even reclining backwards in a ‘Lazy-Boy Chair’. Do you have any comments on posture and contemplation?

  17. Bill Ryan
    Bill Ryan says:

    Cynthia, as you know, I have been a great supporter of your work in teaching and writing these many years. My praise of you as the “most complete contemplative teacher of our time” stands. The fact you bring woman’s experience, artistic perspective,intellect, and integration and healing of our emotional selves into the totality of unitive Love in God is no small thing. I bring no question at this moment but simply congratulate you and thank you for being available to response to questions, which is the way our beloved Yeshua taught.

  18. marcia perryman
    marcia perryman says:

    oh this is so welcome especially for those of us who cannot afford retreats and travelling. I receive velveteen rabbis blog every day and if you could do the same that would be amazing and yes merton would applaud… i am curious about the intermeshing between christianity and other spiritualities. I am taking a course with David Spangler and I love his Incarnate Spirituality… please comment… marcia

  19. Linda Day
    Linda Day says:

    So looking forward to your blog. Greesboro NC talk on Friday made me want more so looking forward to Fla. In Jan. 2012. Will enjoy any and all you offer,

  20. suzanne kurtz
    suzanne kurtz says:

    This is good news, indeed, that there will be some soundbites emerging from your deep reflections more often than a couple times a year! Often in listening to your CD’s, out of the Q & A sections comes just the bit I was needing to hear, so I will be eager to learn from/in all the ways you’ve already mentioned, i.e. “direct questions”, teaching and tidbits.
    On one CD you responded to a query, by laying out a brief outline of the difference between the Christian path and some of the Eastern paths in how the attitude held towards the “horizontal” realm of our lives is viewed as something held with, maybe more reverence or respect, or at the least not just looked upon as “illusion”., as it is in some other tradition. I would love to have you unpack a bit more on how Christianity “uses” or perceives othe “horizontal”, part of our lives as contrasted with a tradition that looks at the horizontal as “illusion”, and so forth.

    Thank you so very much Cynthia for taking this blogging on. Also, does their remain any use, hope, for one like me who finds the ways of Br. Lawrence to be the path I love and find doable, who seems to remain a ridiculous on her knees devotional type, who after a while can’t read another word and just must fall helplessly to the ground, sinking with an overflowing heart of gratitude into the arms of love? (terrified of being trapped in sentimentality!)
    October blessings (what’s left) Suzanne

  21. Peggy (ecumenicus)
    Peggy (ecumenicus) says:

    I am so glad to hear you will be sharing wisdom with us in this way!! We open up our understanding so much more when in dialogue. I hope there is a means of receiving daily updates by email. Helps my forgetful ( but always curious) brain!!! Thanks Cynthia! As ever, deep gratitude for your insights…they nourish and affirm my mystical center! Peggy

  22. Marilyn
    Marilyn says:

    I am looking forward to reading your blog. I ma hoping I will be able to quiet my mind to read, pray and journal.
    I live in a somewhat isolated area of cottage country in Ontario.

  23. Sharon Kowatch
    Sharon Kowatch says:

    Thank you Cynthia, for your willingness to blog! I trust that your upcoming Christophany retreat will again be a blessing with a shift in the lens that we see Christianity [ I attended Christophany in Albany]. I am sending blessings your way. I was intrigued by Rex’s question about the shadow side of Christian contemplative work.

    Sharon [the Sharon that sent the Quaker CD]

  24. Cynthia Daigle
    Cynthia Daigle says:

    Many blessings on this further adventure, and thanks for taking all of us along with you. I’m a regular with the Spirituality and Health online courses, and find as much wisdom through the participants’ comments and questions as I do the teachers and writings. So I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with everyone here.
    I’m in a group reading The Wisdom Jesus, and the same group is also tackling the Sutras, Gurdjieff and Tibetan wisdom on differing days. I’ve held back on everything except Wisdom Jesus for now. I remember Joseph Campbell talking about digging the well deep, instead of digging many wells, and I’m wondering what you might have to offer on this. Sometimes I feel as if I have spiritual indigestion!
    Thank you for being. May you be drenched with God’s own peace and Light, radiating the shared grace from Eagle Island.

  25. Nicole Moen
    Nicole Moen says:

    Hello Cynthia!
    Great to see you here on a blog on the CS site 🙂

    Question: I’m in the reading group focused on Love is Stronger Than Death and I’m really curious about one aspect of your communication with Rafe. How do you do it? What is the vocabulary you use? Is it physical sensing? And if so, what specifically happens? Is it heart knowing? And if so, how does that feel/manifest/come about? Is it words that come to your mind? How do you discern what they are if it’s this? Am I missing what happens altogether with these questions?

    Blessings to you,

    • Fred Macon
      Fred Macon says:

      Cynthia, would like to know what are the cutting edge questions/insights in your journey these days.

      Would like to be in a Wisdom School with you on the Gospel of Philip and the Song of Songs. Any possibility?

      Can’t wait for the Southeast Wisdom Schools. Our local group of 5 is already meeting. We’re processing
      in a lectio divina mode selected readings from Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. Rich!

    • Susan Ulbrght
      Susan Ulbrght says:

      I am curious about your answers to nicole’s questions. Your book, Love is Stronger Than Death helped me validate a similar relationship and integrate my ongoing relationship with my friend after he died. This book, your Mary Magdalene book and Centering Prayer have greatly influenced me in my work as well as in my daily spiritual practice. I look forward to reading your blog.

  26. Michele Geyer
    Michele Geyer says:

    I’m looking forward to your right brained inspiration from Eagle Island, Cynthia…am all too familiar with task oriented writing and other left brained mechanics…and would love a more intuitive, spontaneous & fluid muse!

  27. Robin Livingston
    Robin Livingston says:

    Cynthia…bless you for your foray into “blogland” as Christopher named it! I like this opportunity to read “whatever shows up” as Jennifer put it. Though I’m glad to have a place for all of us to toss questions your way, I’m also a little protective of overwhelm, so will just name my intention to cultivate gratitude for whatever then seems to “want to write itself.” I can envision this spurred by your “meanderings or milestones,” “rants,” (as you mentioned!), or our questions, or the intersection of any of those things. I think just opportunity to read one another’s questions is also a gift. Bless you and thanks! Robin

  28. kim
    kim says:

    Hi Cynthia, we are a small book group studying “Love is Stronger Death”. In our discussion today we riffed on your writing on pg 49 regarding you two, Rafe “became convinced that the purpose of our human love was to form a conscious connection that would survive his physical death…” In the larger context of life do you feel that as a calling of Christians in general or is it something else? Would you be able to elaborate on this?

    By the way we are open to hearing from others on this…..and if the idea of a study group interests you please let me now. We are open to expanding and meet via Skype.


  29. Rex Spear
    Rex Spear says:

    Cynthia, this is wonderful. But be careful what you asketh. I see a long queue already forming. And here I am adding to it – I’m afraid I’ve started typing and I can’t stop.

    I think all of the above is great.

    One lead off question:

    In the growing field of Christian Contemplative Work, what shadow elements and roadside hazards are you seeing? What do I (we) need to be alert to?

    Thanks – Rex

  30. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Wow!!! Thank you Cynthia. I’ll be happy with whatever shows up. What a blessing. Lol. And now for my question… does one remain tethered to Christ when the experience of God seems to be infinite space? And maybe this isn’t the right question?

  31. Linda Hayes
    Linda Hayes says:

    I am interested in the experience you have shared about receiving the eucharist, and am wondering if this experience is consistent–Does it still happen?, Are there certain circumstances under which it seems to be more pronounced?, (certain people, events, times of the year, etc.). Thanks.

  32. Joyce McCauley
    Joyce McCauley says:

    Hi Cynthia,
    Like some of the folks who spoke, I did meet you at Claymont and look forward to doing more Wisdom Schools and another at Claymont.
    I like the idea of questions and answers and also what you are currently reading and insights you are understanding. You seem to read and get it so fast and I appreciate so your recommendations.

  33. cynthia bourgeault
    cynthia bourgeault says:

    Thanks for all this great feedback, my friends! I’ll “read, mark, inwardly digest,” and fine-tune my strategy. Some great questions and ideas here….For now, as I get ready to head back to Snowmass, Colorado to co-lead the CHRISTOPHANY retreat with Fr. Thomas Keating, I carry you all in my hearts…And Edith, what an incredible joy to be in Dublin and meet the gang. I have never experienced so much heart in so small a space. We simply MUST make this a regular stop on the spiritual underground railroad. Love to all. Cynthia

  34. Susan Cooper
    Susan Cooper says:

    Off we go, indeed! … this is so great!
    Questions? they abound … but first would love to hear of your wild (?) adventures in France …

  35. Edith
    Edith says:

    Cynthia, it’s wonderful to witness the birth of your entrance into the blogosphere! I have dreamed of your doing something like this for a long time!!! I attended your workshop in Dublin, Ireland a couple of weeks ago and it was just so amazing to actually hear and see you for real! Thank you for visiting our little island. Now if you would consider a Wisdom School over here in the not too distant future, that would be great! Can i sign up now?!! 😉
    As for what i would like to see here on your blog..well everything you have already mentioned. Also how about a book study online group as an ongoing though maybe separate section perhaps? And someone mentioned book recommendations. Great idea. I too make a habit of buying and reading all the books you list in the back of your own books as a way of educating myself. You are a teacher and mentor to so many souls who have spent years searching for water in a dry land. So happy to find you here! Isn’t technology just marvellous?! 🙂

  36. DeAnna
    DeAnna says:

    The bible tells us to care for “widows and orphans.” Perhaps the modern day equivalent of this might be single low- income mothers in bad neighbourhoods or homeless street- persons. It is easy to to help those who are trying to help themselves and just need a leg up, but what about those who aren’t interested in helping themselves, and is some cases, are down right mean, abusive, and ungrateful? (perhaps due to mental illness or substance abuse) As comtemplatives, should we take action (beyond prayer) to help these individuals, or would this time be better spent supporting individuals who would use this help more wisely? If we can’t teach a man to fish… should we still help him/her anyway– even when its seems he/she doesn’t deserve it?

  37. David T. Brown
    David T. Brown says:

    This sounds so great. I read Richard Rohr every morning prior to doing my meditation. I also read and love “In a Spacious Place” Christopher Page’s blog, but he’s sorta on a short (I hope) sabbatical. I’ve read most of what you have written. I would really like you to delve, more, into what I term “Anthropos”. The being a full human being, rather than just a male or female,masculine/feminine human being. The logos/sophia that you discuss in the Meaning of Mary Magdalene. We can’t wait too long as I’m just turning 80 and another 10 or 20 years will likely do me in. I await the blog. Shalom.

  38. Steve Ballantyne
    Steve Ballantyne says:

    Cynthia, thanks for beginning this blog. I attended your Centering Prayer retreat on Thetis Island, near Vancouver Island, in Sept 2005. Those four days launched me into the beautiful world of meditative prayer. Thank you for that. Your working textbook during that week was And There Was Light (Jacques Lusseyran), which I am currently reading. I would love to hear about your ongoing personal journey of the expansion and deepening of that inner light.

  39. Joan Maxwell
    Joan Maxwell says:

    I have a specific question: I always benefit greatly from your book recommendations. So what have you read in the past 12 months that you have found worthwhile and would recommend? Blessings, Joan PS Great you will be on Eagle. During winter, wow…

  40. Christopher Page
    Christopher Page says:

    Welcome Cynthia to the wonderful world of blogland. It is lovely to think you will be stirring up spiritual discussion in this forum. I am delighted at the thought of Thomas Merton sitting in his little cinder block hermitage sending out words of wisdom on a computer. Too bad he never lived to see the worldwide web! I guess the mantle of cyber hermit guru has fallen to you!

  41. Carole Anderson
    Carole Anderson says:

    I vote for questions, answers, and when needed ,the opportunity for clarification/follow-up. Early access to your teaching schedule
    would also be greatly appreciated. I am not quite sure that the Contemplative Society has all your teaching schedule since you
    are involved with other groups also.
    Thank You,

  42. Amina Linda McMakin
    Amina Linda McMakin says:

    “Personal news? Spiritual teachings and tidbits? Answers to direct queries? ”
    All of the above!

    Re the third category up there, I’d like to ask if there’s a possibility of your adding a 2nd offering of the Southeast Wisdom School for all of us poor souls who always end up on the waiting list and never get to participate! I suppose I need to be “quicker on the trigger” of registering, (you would think a day or two would give you enough time!) but that doesn’t really address the overall issue of there not being enough space in your offerings for all the interested people. I am almost through “The Wisdom Way of Knowing,” and it has fueled the fire of my yearning – even more – to participate in your Wisdom School.

    I look forward to this new way of keeping in touch with you. (You may remember I met you last year at Montreat in Black Mountain and sent you a copy of “Dancing with Mary Magdalene.” I also attended your lecture at Mary & Martha’s Place earlier this year.)

    In graditude
    Amina Linda

  43. Darla
    Darla says:

    Thanks for the blog, Cynthia!

    I would love to see spiritual teachings and ask questions. Contemplative teachers are not exactly listed in the yellow pages, so I appreciate the opportunity to learn from your teachings and your responses to others.

  44. Gail Wiggin
    Gail Wiggin says:

    In a wisdom school recently these words were ascribed to you (per my notes, anyway), “Man must differentiate — that is his work” and “Freedom come full… is the highest gift we can bring back to God.” They embody a spacious vision. Wonder if you might say more.

Comments are closed.