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Center for Action and Contemplation

Alumni Newsletter — December 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Note from the Staff

As we go deeper into fall, I’m reminded of the cycle of the seasons and the energy associated with them. To borrow from the Chinese tradition, summer here in the northern hemisphere is a Yang time and winter is a Yin time. Fall, then, is a transition from Yang to Yin, from outward, expansive energy to inward, conserving energy. A shaman friend of mine takes the entire month of December off to honor this shift in the seasons and energy. I admire her attunement to this natural rhythm.

We see this energy shift play out all around us in the natural world. Outwardly, plants and trees shed parts of themselves as their energy goes inward, down into their roots, preparing for spring. Many animals come out much less frequently or even hibernate for most of the winter.

The Christian liturgical rhythm dovetails with the natural cycles in the Northern hemisphere. With fall we move into Advent, from the Latin Adventus for “coming.” For many, Advent and Christmas boil down to “Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again.” Advent seems to be a time of drawing inward and of preparation; Christmas is a time of rest. Christmastide ends on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, marking the 40 days Mary rested before her purification and presentation of her firstborn at the temple.

For me, this mirrors what we do in contemplative practice, especially Centering Prayer: gathering inward, preparing the ground of our being so that God may take root. As you read the reflections in this newsletter—from Richard and alum Charles Kennedy—I invite you to slow down, to listen to the questions and wisdom from your own heart.

Enjoy the season!

An image of a handwritten signature by Phil Rogacki, Living School staff.

Faculty Reflection — Richard Rohr

Our world seems to be drowning in fear and sadness these days. We sincerely want to do our little part to reverse the engines of history toward nonviolence, earth care, and justice for all those pushed to the margins of our upwardly mobile society. That was the original intention of the Gospel. . . . Thankfully God is always leading us into the future, and the Living School has trained many in “the cloud of forgetting” so that healing can happen.

You’re no doubt familiar with my images of the container and its contents (from Falling Upward). Your two years of formal participation in the Living School—through symposia, intensive, readings, and study—were merely an initial container of the wondrous and healing message of universal reconciliation. The rest of your life is to discover the contents, the ever deeper mystery within this container. Your classroom is life itself, even your own life, and even our own confused times and culture. Remember, spiritual change moves from Order to Disorder to Reorder. No stopping! Onward.

(Click here to read Richard’s full reflection.)

Richard Rohr Signature

Alumni Spotlight

Image of Charles Kennedy, Living School Alumnus, Class of 2017. Charles Kennedy (’17)

Almost six years ago I moved back to my adult hometown of Dallas, Texas, to be near grandkids and to start a nonprofit called Directions: A 12 Step Recovery Campus. I quickly realized my leadership skill set was not going to suffice for this type of organization. Trying to start this nonprofit with volunteers, I saw my ego was in the way but did not know what to do about it. . . .

Participating in the Living School and being constantly encouraged to develop and grow a meditation practice has been the change that has changed everything. I now see my role differently. I see a vision that is not so much “all or nothing”; I find myself looking for ways to just get started and let things evolve. . . . As Father Richard says, “Suffering is the feeling I get whenever I am trying to control something.” This new way is much less stressful for everyone, including myself. God/Love does all the heavy lifting.

(Click here to continue reading about Charles’ experience in the Living School and the nonprofit Directions.)

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