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Center for Action and Contemplation

Alumni Newsletter – August 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Alumni Newsletter
August 2016

A Note from the Staff

“There is a line of poetry, a sentence in a fable, a word in an essay, by which my existence is justified; find that line, and immortality is assured.” —Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night

For the last twenty years or so, I’ve carried with me a small vade mecum. This constant companion—literally a “go with me”—is a collection of meaningful ideas and thoughts that I’ve come across. Before I read the above quote from Manguel, I had been unwittingly acting on the impulse, searching and remembering in a little black notebook. I harbor a hope that I will never find that elusive, redemptive line of poetry or word in an essay because the discovery of yet another line or word is always a taste of immortality, just enough to keep me looking.

I have the privilege of being the CAC’s librarian and specifically working in the Living School to help all of you, both current and former students, discover or remember bits of a line that may help you on your way. As alumni, you have been honored with an abundance of knowledge, whether or not you remember all of it (and that’s certainly not the point). But, if Manguel is right, then a line or word here and there is enough.

I hope you’ll find a few words in this newsletter to carry with you–in your inbox, on paper, or simply in your heart. Read on for reflections from Cynthia Bourgeault, Carolyn Metzler (on the Alumni Retreat), and alumni Cleve McIntosh.

Lee Staman, Systems Librarian signature

Lee Staman, Systems Librarian

Faculty Reflection – Cynthia Bourgeault

Think Globally—Act Nonlocally!

As you receive this in your email box, the Living School will shortly be gathering for its fourth annual Symposium (can you believe?) and to honor and congratulate our second class of “sendees.” Our ranks of alumni have just doubled, and we on the core faculty and staff offer those of you in the 2016 cohort our heartfelt congratulations and gratitude.

On momentous occasions like this, there is often a bittersweet component to the mix. Along with a justly felt pride and elation, there can also be a deep feeling of grief for what seems to be the end of our common life together. Sometimes this underlying separation anxiety can express itself in a slightly-too-frantic effort to nail down regular ongoing gatherings and projects to keep us all in touch. “When will we see each other again?” is always the shadow side of “consummatum est. . . .”

Meanwhile, out in our restless and volatile wider world . . . things seem to be playing out according to deeper, more archetypal forces than we can rationally understand, let alone manage. . . . In a terrifying way, our planet seems to be spinning out of control.

The concept of spiritual generativity . . . reminds us that the real channels of exchange in this universe, the greater wisdom holding and shaping the course of this world, operate on the imaginal plane, not just the physical one. There are deep, invisible ley lines crisscrossing space/time through which flow the energies of compassion, wisdom, intention, prayer, and hope. . . . (Click here to read Cynthia’s full reflection.)

Cynthia Bourgeault signature

Cynthia Bourgeault

Alumni Retreat

Dear friends,

Forgive me if I think of you all as the “grandparents” of the Living School! Your work, feedback, suggestions, donations, and prayers have made possible the extraordinary gathering which the Living School now is. I am so grateful for each and every one of you and will miss the Pancakers at the upcoming Symposium.

I must admit you astonished me with your response to my “Save the Date: Alumni Retreat” email (sent a few weeks ago; if you didn’t receive it, let me know!). O me of little faith! We’ve already had almost 90 responses. Alumni in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand want to arrange retreats in their regions. More on that as it develops. If anyone in Canada, Central and South America, Europe, or Africa would like to organize something in your area, let me know and I will support your effort!

Here’s the latest regarding the New Mexico retreat: We will take the first 50 people who have signed up for the February 6-8, 2017, retreat in Albuquerque. Thirty-eight people can stay at the Bosque Center, and others can join us for the day program. Participants should plan to arrive in Albuquerque on Sunday, February 5, and depart Thursday, February 9. I will share more details-including who the first 50 are!-and reach out to those who expressed interest in leading a contemplative practice by early September.

I have also arranged two other retreat times with the Bosque Center: May 1-3 and June 6-8, 2017. I anticipate a similar format for each retreat: alumni leading lesser-known contemplative practices. I will shortly be sending out a way of choosing which retreat draws you.

If you haven’t yet filled out the retreat survey, please do so before the end of August by clicking here. If you are interested in one of the later retreats, indicate the dates in the comments area.

Thank you for your support, ideas, offerings, and prayers. We really are creating the map even as we walk it. Let our hearts be broken open for larger life and for deeper communion.

With love,


Carolyn Metzler, Spiritual Life Coordinator

Alumni Spotlight

Cleve McIntosh is living action and contemplation in his medical practice in South Africa. For his integration project, Cleve grew a plant whose active ingredient prevents malaria; he then processed the plant to make capsules to distribute. He is now cultivating 5,000 more plants to begin the next round of producing the medicine.

Cleve also incorporates mindfulness into his practice. He reports: “Today I had an elderly lady whose life has been paralysed by severe anxiety, to the point that she looks like she has Parkinsons (but does not). So I offered to teach her a ‘2 minute breathing exercise to manage her stress better.’ She reluctantly agreed. And she loved it. She asked for another 2 minutes, and then after that still didn’t want to open her eyes. Her son and husband noticed that her leg, which usually has a tremor, stopped shaking completely while she was meditating. It felt like a sacred moment, as they stared on speechless while their usually anxious mother and husband was a picture of calm. Very exciting! I feel very encouraged.”

Andrej Rublev's famous icon showing the three Angels hosted by Abraham at Mamre. Psalm 3*8

(Between Maccabees 4 and Thessalonians)
by Dale Lange
Holy Creator, Word, and Spirit,
The One.
In the darkest of nights,
You tame the hardest of hearts
and quell unstoppable tears . . .
With the day’s bright light,
You shower even closed eyes
With the softest light to imagine
Your Majesty.
While I have not uncovered Your Countenance
Yet in the parting of the veil of death
For only a moment in a dream, I heard
You, the Word,
the Spirit,
Dance to the Tambourine,
the cymbals,
the lyre,
A dance of Joy,
a dance of Oneness
a dance of LOVE As Creator your love permeates all existence;
The hard and soft: molecules, rocks, plants, animals,
planets, stars, black holes, the unknowns of the universe.
And humanity. As Alpha, before the Beginning,
You, the Word spoke Your assurances of love,
Undertook Your actions of redemption
As emanating from the Creator;
As Omega Christ,
You are the fire of the unending Universe. As Spirit, You transform and translate love
From Creator and Word through Your hand
Pointing to the Universal, including ALL.Preceding the close of death’s veil,
The hand of Spirit, Pointed my direction,
My feet joined the Dance of Oneness
To the rhythms of the tambourine, cymbals, and lyre
In Joy and LOVE.
Notes: Maccabees is the last book of the Apocrypha, just prior to the beginning of the New Testament. Marcus Borg assumes Thessalonians to be the first book of the New Testament (see Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written). The image above is Andrej Rublev’s famous icon showing the three Angels hosted by Abraham at Mamre.

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