September 2022 Newsletter

Dear Fellow Mystics,

We are looking forward to this Saturday's BioSpirituality Focusing workshop led by Mike Smoolca. Many of you have asked questions about this practice and so Mike kindly agreed to an interview. Here's an extract:

What have you seen as the biggest benefits to this practice? The biggest benefit I've found from my work with all Body Presence and Contemplative Awareness practices is that I have gained an ability to be with difficult emotions without reacting to them, rather now I allow them to be integrated. This process removes obstacles to the expression of my True Self and enables me to live more fully. BioSpiritual Focusing’s emphasis is to explicitly invite Loving Caring (Agape) presence to any hurting place. This has opened me up and brought that presence more fully into my life. I've encountered deep Wisdom that is available inherently in the Body, sharpening my intuition. I have profoundly, at times, experienced my deep connection with the Universe and the deeper source of Universal Consciousness, which is so well described by Gene Gendlin: “Your physically felt body is in fact part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people–in fact, the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body as it is felt from inside.” – Eugene Gendlin, Founder of Focusing . You can read my full interview with Mike here.

In this issue you'll also find my reflection on Diving Deep into Love below.

We're excited to share that Michael Battle is coming to Atlanta! Join him in person at the Cathedral of St. Philip on October 22nd from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm ET with a Zoom option, where he will present “Deep Reconciliation as Christian Mysticism–Not Cheap Grace.” Info and registration here.

May our united Centering Prayer moments spread peace and love through one Spirit, as members of one Whole, combined of all races, cultures, languages, and traditions.

Love draws us closer,
Day 903 from my Two Thomases Hermitage.
Our mission supports over 30 Centering Prayer groups in the Atlanta and northern Georgia area. All of our work is provided by volunteers who generously donate their time and talent. Your donations in any amount help us to continue providing resources and support for you. Thank you.

COA Upcoming Events

Body Presence & Contemplative Awareness BioSpiritual Focusing Workshop
Sat, Sep 10th 9:30 AM - 2:15 PM ET

Mike Smoolca leads us in discovery of a deeper awareness of healing and wisdom accessible to each of us through our bodies. We'll establish BioSpiritual Focusing’s place in Body Awareness Practice and participants will experimentally be introduced to focusing concepts including a demonstration and discussion of Focusing.
Register & More Information

Intensive/Post-Intensive Five-Day Two-Track Retreat

4:00 PM Wednesday, Oct 12th - Noon Sunday, Oct 16th ET
This retreat is held on Zoom

Our annual Fall retreat is back! You have two track options from which to choose:

  • The Intensive Track will review Thomas Keating’s Human Condition series,
  • The Post-Intensive Track will review David Frenette’s Wisdom.

Each full day includes three one-hour Centering Prayer sessions with meditative walks and one Lectio Divina experience.
Facilitated by Maggie Winfrey and Vernon Dixon.Requested retreat fee is $25.00

Register & More Information

We Gather Together - Holy Trinity Big Sit on Zoom

Saturday, November 12th - 10:00 - 12:00 ET

Join us for a meaningful morning exploring the Holy Trinity theme inspired by the First Nations’ translation of the New Testament. This Big Sit incorporates two 20-minute silent Centering Prayer sessions with Lectio Divina (sacred reading four times), Taizé chant, and a Visio Divina meditation inspired by Father John Giuliani’s Holy Trinity.

Register & More Information

We need volunteers to help Contemplative Outreach Atlanta grow! We welcome our involvement on a one-time activity, such as helping plan or participate in a Big Sit, or on an ongoing basis for things like Zoom/ website support, event management, or helping post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Please contact us here if you would like to explore options or for more information.

Diving Deep Into Love

By Maggie Winfrey

Vacationing in my Panamanian birth-land with my son and daughter-in-law, we snorkeled for a few days off the Chocó Indians’ San Blas Islands on the north coast. Swimming on the surface we gasped in delight at each new discovery of exquisite coral structures teeming with dazzling fish swirling and hiding. A deeper azure lurked at the edge of the shallow coral field, looming as a dark, endless abyss. Gripped by fear as I came to the edge, I hesitated going further. Although I am an accomplished swimmer, I couldn’t trust that I would find more treasures below.

The same feeling might grip us when we approach Centering Prayer. Although intimidating at first, our deeper exploration reveals more valuable rewards. My friend Ben Wren calls it vertical plunging. We go deeper for a reason: to get to our true self. Our fears dissipate the deeper we go. We may start out with selfish motives, but they fall away. Facing our shadow selves is how to dissolve them. Illusions, unconscious influences, and misperceptions leave us, healing love replacing the void. We find the pearl of great price, hidden on holy ground. We can see clearly now. Mists evaporate in the brilliant light of True First Love who has loved us from the beginning.

The story doesn’t end here; it is just beginning. As our true self, we can now live as we are designed. Thomas Merton writes: "There exists for me a particular goal, a fulfillment which must be all my own--nobody else's… Because my own individual destiny is a meeting, an encounter with God that He has destined for me alone. His glory in me will be to receive from me something He can never receive from anyone else… My whole life is only that—to establish that particular contact with God which is the one He has planned for my eternity! ...

Read Maggie's full reflection in our Journal

New to Centering Prayer?
Begin here.

Looking for inspiration?
Find resources here.

Need a Centering Prayer group?
Find one here.

Other Events

Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers Zoom Retreats:

  •  Sept 10th -Cistercian Spirituality - Two Sessions: 9:30 AM & 1:30 PM with Fr. Cassian
  •  Sept 24th - The Monk Within - Two Sessions: 9:30 AM & 1:30 PM with Br. Michael
To register please call 770-760-0959, Monday – Friday 8:00-12:00. Suggested donation of $45.00 per retreats. Their complete list of this year's remaining Zoom Retreats is available here.

Sept 12-Oct 3 Center for Christogenesis hosts Ridgeway Addison presenting Panikkar’s Christophany, a new intermediate ongoing course. Info and registration here.

Oct 1st 12:00 - 2:00  Contemplative Outreach Ltd. hosts Carmen Acevedo Butcher: “The Cloud, The Presence and Centering Prayer”. Dr. Acevedo Butcher will help inspire us to reflect and understand more deeply the books, The Cloud of Unknowing and The Practice of Presence, and their relationship to Centering Prayer. The workshop will include reflections from Carmen, questions from participants and a period of Centering Prayer. The workshop will be recorded. Info and registration here.

October 22nd 9:30AM - 3:00PM Cathedral of St. Philip presents their 13th Annual Spirituality Conference with Very Rev. Michael Battle, Ph.D. Dr. Battle will be  presenting “Deep Reconciliation as Christian Mysticism–Not Cheap Grace” by exploring Desmond Tutu’s spirituality. Zoom option available. Lunch and book signing. Registration/more info here.

We’d love to hear what you think -

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