CONSPIRE 2018 — Center for Action and Contemplation

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We need to deeply trust and allow both our own dyings and our own certain resurrections, just as Jesus did! This is the full pattern of transformation. If we trust both, we are indestructible. That is how Jesus “saves” us from meaninglessness, cynicism, hatred, and violence—which is indeed death. —Richard Rohr


In the beginning there is darkness. It is the womb out of which we are born. Darkness may be the blessed dimming of ego-driven striving, a destination and condition of safety and repose. In this state of trusting refuge, the light of divine revelation, which pierces but does not castigate the darkness, may finally be seen. This is a mothering darkness that nurses its offspring. —Barbara Holmes


Comfort and power can become great enemies of true spirituality, which explains why we often say that the prophets come not only to comfort the afflicted, but also to afflict the comfortable. —Brian McLaren



I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light. —Barbara Brown Taylor


Everything we thought we knew feels like it is unraveling and we have nowhere to turn but into the center of radical unknowing. Like a physical desert, this seemingly barren space teems with spiritual energy. God lives here, hidden under every stone, flaming from the harsh sun, concealed by the crescent moon. —Mirabai Starr


CONSPIRE 2018 Theme: The path of descent is the path of transformation.

The secret essence of the soul that knows the truth is calling out to God: Beloved, strip me of the consolations of my complacent spirituality. Plunge me into the darkness where I cannot rely on any of my old tricks for maintaining my separation. Let me give up on trying to convince myself that my own spiritual deeds are bound to be pleasing to you. Take all my juicy spiritual feelings, Beloved, and dry them up, and then please light them on fire. Take my lofty spiritual concepts and plunge them into darkness, and then burn them. Let me only love you, Beloved. Let me quietly and with unutterable simplicity just love you. —St. John of the Cross (paraphrased by Mirabai Starr)

A positive religious faith does not offer an illusion that we shall be exempt from pain and suffering, nor does it imbue us with the idea that life is a drama of unalloyed comfort and untroubled ease. Rather, it instills us with the inner equilibrium needed to face strains, burdens, and fears that inevitably come, and assures us that the universe is trustworthy and God is concerned. —Martin Luther King, Jr., The Strength to Love

How do we change and grow? How do we become our most whole selves, deeply connected with God and others? How do we learn to experience ourselves as interconnected so that we can truly love? The mystics of many spiritual traditions teach the path of descent—surrender, generative self-emptying, dying before you die—as the way of transformation. More than ideas or success, uncertainty, failure, relapse, suffering (personal and communal), and woundedness are our primary teachers.

The pattern of down and up, loss and renewal, enslavement and liberation, exile and return is quite clear in the Hebrew Scriptures. Through his own journey, Jesus modeled this counter-intuitive wisdom: “Unless the grain of wheat dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” To avoid the death of our small, separate self is to avoid transformation into God, into union with one another, into something more. We must lose our life to find our life.

Join us for a weekend of contemplative teachings, practices, reflection, and conversation with Richard Rohr, Barbara Holmes, Brian McLaren, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Mirabai Starr. Conspirare. Let’s breathe together. Inhale and exhale, listen and share, let go and receive. Open heart, mind, and body to the surprising wisdom to be found in darkness and descent.

We invite you to reconsider darkness as sacred and find companionship, community, and courage for your own unique journey of becoming Love in our world. Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your path, you are welcome. . . .

If you are doubting, welcome!
If you are hurting, welcome!
If you are angry at injustice, welcome!
If you are afraid but longing to let go, welcome!
If you feel far from home, welcome!
The Beloved will meet you here.


Conference Details (subject to change):

This is the sixth conference in CAC’s CONSPIRE series, based on Richard Rohr’s Seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy. Whether or not you’ve participated previously, you are welcome! CAC events draw over 1,000 individuals who are compassionate, caring, engaged, and share a common desire to grow spiritually. Conferences offer a combination of exceptional teaching and opportunities for practice and reflection, grounded in the Christian contemplative tradition.


  • Conference begins: Friday, August 31, 1:00 p.m. (US MDT)
  • Conference ends: Sunday, September 2, 7:00 p.m. (US MDT)
  • Woven throughout the conference are contemplative practices and opportunities for group and individual reflection.


Learn more about the CONSPIRE 2018 speakers here.

Conference recording:

You will receive access to the edited, downloadable videos when they become available (included with registration for both the in-person and webcast conference).


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