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Center for Action and Contemplation

Alumni Newsletter — September 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Alumni Newsletter
September 2017

A Note from the Staff

Image of an outdoor chapel with benches turned on the chevron facing the great deep Atlantic ocean in southern Maine.

A few days ago, I stood with two cherished friends on the top of a knoll overlooking the mighty Atlantic in southern Maine. . . .

We stood together and stretched out our arms over the ocean in blessing of all the children of the world. Starting with our own children and grandchildren, then the children who have come through our lives, then all the children of the world: those who are hungry, afraid, without moorings, children displaced, children ill and dying, children whose lives have been ripped apart by war. We blessed children who were happy and healthy, growing into the people they were created to be. We blessed the wee beasties and young plants struggling to survive the ravages of climate change. I also prayed for you and your children, your grandchildren, all the children of your land.

Martha, one of my dear friends, commented how powerful she felt to be one of three grandmothers who could change the world for the children. So it is for each Living School alum. Never underestimate the power of a blessing. You don’t have to do the Big Stuff. A blessing is within your purview. Simply stretch out your hands and let the blessing flow.

In this newsletter, may you be blessed by Uncle Jim’s words of wisdom, a reflection by alum Kuno Kohn, a peek into CAC’s evolving landscape, and other ways you can stay connected with us.

With love,

Carolyn Metzler's Signature

Carolyn Metzler
Spiritual Life Coordinator

Faculty Reflection — James Finley

I’d like to share with you some insights I’ve had lately that will hopefully help you in reading the classical texts of the mystics. For lack of space, I will offer a few bare threads that need to be fleshed out in further reflection. But I hope these intuitive tracings have evolved enough to help you enter more deeply into the intimate nature of reading mystical texts as a way to pray.

First of all, I think it is helpful to realize that the subject matter of the text is your own subjectivity. That is, the mystics’ offerings are intended to illumine your experiential self-knowledge. . . .

Secondly, it is helpful in reading the teachings of the mystics to realize the subject matter is the trans-subjective communion in which the interiority of your own subjectivity is accessing and is being accessed by the interiority of the mystic’s very subjectivity. . . .

All of this ripens into the tender-hearted way we are learning to treat ourselves and each person we meet as we go through our day. Over time . . . we join the mystics in realizing that our lingering illusions are just that, illusions that do not have the power to name who we are and ever shall be in God who loves us so in the midst of our ongoing illusions whatever they may be.

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

Paul Swanson’s New Role

How would you like to help Richard Rohr start a school?

It’s been years, but those words of invitation still ring clearly in my ears. I was humbled to be asked, but more so, grateful that I was able to serve the Living School as the Director of Curriculum since its inception. Who wouldn’t want courtside seats to the transformation of consciousness? Little did I realize that when I first threw my hat in the ring, my whole body would follow. The years I spent shoulder-to-shoulder with students in Circle Groups, laughing over food and drink, or sitting together at the feet of our teachers have been profound markers in my life.

The CAC has changed and grown since the first cohort got their “little piece of paper” at the 2015 sending. I’m sure the same could be said for you. In acknowledgment of our collective growth and winds of change, I am transitioning to a new team here at the CAC, Program Design. This new team is seeking to serve the CAC (and the Living School) by codifying and baking into all CAC programs what the Core Faculty have embodied and taught so well—a deep grounding and alignment to the Christian contemplative lineage in loving service and the transformation of consciousness. The manifestations of this work will take shape in developing new online courses, the evolution of the Living School curriculum, supporting the Core Faculty’s endeavors, and a myriad of ways that are just beginning the birthing process. I’m grateful to be on this new team helmed by Kirsten Oates (LS ’16) with my fellow Program Designer, Brie Stoner (LS ’15). At this juncture, the question I am now being invited to live into is becoming clearer:

How can we best midwife the evolving Christian contemplative lineage in all that we do at the CAC and beyond?

Image of Paul Swanson's signature

Paul Swanson
Former Director of Curriculum
Current Program Designer

Alumni Spotlight

Image of Kuno Kohn, Living School Alumni 2017

Kuno reflects on the G-20 conference that took place this July in Hamburg, Germany, where he lives:

Before the conference, many other residents left because they were afraid of potential violence and problems connected to the conference. I chose to stay because I work with the prostitutes there. They told me they still had to work during that time and wanted me to come as usual, to be present to them and share hot chocolate, iced tea, sweets, and bags of condoms as I do every week. For those minutes that I am with them, the sex workers know themselves to be respected and loved for who they are. . . .

It was important to me to meet with a few like-hearted friends in contemplation every day for an hour. . . . It was also important to me to take part in the demonstrations to be part of a movement of respect for all people and to call for a new economic world of justice and love. At Christmas we say, “Peace on earth and good will to all people.” This is the power of love which can move people to be connected like one family all over the earth. It was action and contemplation coming together.

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