“What is the Enneagram and Why Should You Care?”

Podcast: Rage Against the Minivan
Host: Kristen Howerton
Contact: @kristenhowerton

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Text as it reads on podcast website:

What can you learn about your internal motivations and drives from the Enneagram? Over on my podcast Selfie we’re kicking off a series on this fascinating personality theory. In this introductory episode we will explain what it is, and then talk through each type with writer and enneagram enthusiast Leigh Kramer. We’re also joined by Christopher Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, who shares some of the history of the enneagram, it’s spiritual origins and modern psychological iterations, and how our childhood fears and wounds shape our personality. It’s a fascinating episode that we hope will inspire you to join us on this journey of exploration.

To take the test to find out your own type, you can visit this site for a quick, free test, or buy the $12 Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator test at the Enneagram Institute for a more thorough assessment and explanation of your secondary types. (We recommend springing for the paid test.)

Here are some books we talked about in this episode:

The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Riso and Hudson

The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge by Beatrice Chestnut

 

Enneagram Type Two

Podcast: Sleeping At Last Podcast
Hosts: Ryan O’Neal
Contact: NA

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New song debut: “Two” – the second of nine songs inspired by the nine Enneagram types! “Two” is also part of the ongoing series of songs, Atlas by Sleeping At Last. In this episode, you’ll hear how the song came about, the Enneagram, what an Enneagram Type “Two” is and so much more! Guest: Chris Heuertz.

Enneagram Type One

Podcast: Sleeping At Last Podcast
Hosts: Ryan O’Neal
Contact: NA

Listen to Podcast, iTunes

New song debut: “One” – the first of nine songs inspired by the nine Enneagram types! “One” is part of the ongoing Atlas series of songs by Sleeping At Last. In this episode, you’ll hear how the song came about, what the Enneagram is, what an Enneagram Type “One” is and so much more! Guest: Chris Heuertz.

The Sacred Enneagram–An Interview with Chris Heuertz

Podcast: Live True
Hosts: Caron & David Loveless
Contact: caron@youlivetrue.comdavid@youlivetrue.com

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In this podcast Episode, David Loveless interviews Chris Heuertz concerning his book: The Sacred Enneagram- Finding your unique path to spiritual growth. Chris is the author of multiple books, a speaker, Enneagram coach, non-profit consultant, and anti-human trafficking activist.

Have you ever asked yourself the quintessential human question of identity- “Who am I?” Most of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out who we are and how we relate to others and God.

Unfortunately, in the process of forming an identity, we succumb to building up lies and illusions around our sense of self that only leads us further away from who God really made us to be and who we truly are.

Chris Heuertz, The Ennegram–Sacred Map to the Soul

Podcast: Typology
Host: Ian Morgan Cron
Contact: www.typologypodcast.com/connect

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“The number of self-proclaimed “Enneagram experts” appears to be on the rise these days so I was thrilled when I learned my friend and master Enneagram teacher, Chris Heuertz, was writing a book on using the Enneagram as a tool for personal and spiritual transformation. 

Chris is the real deal. He was first introduced to the Enneagram fifteen years ago in the slums of Cambodia, and it forever changed his life. Since then he has dedicated countless hours to studying what he calls this “sacred map of the soul,” and shared it with people at workshops and retreats around the world.

You’re going to walk away from this episode with more new insights into the Enneagram than you can shake a stick at. Listen in as Chris, my guest co-host Rabbi Evan Moffic, and I talk about understanding the ‘why’ behind your type, how to identify and find freedom from self-destructive patterns, how to grow in spiritual discernment, how to face your past wounds and find healing, how to awaken your gifts to serve today’s broken world, and about Chris’ new book The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth.

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a feast of Enneagram wisdom!” -Ian Cron

Hillsong Young and Free & Chris Heuertz

Podcast: The Relevant Podcast
Host: NA
Contact: support@relevantmagazine.com

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In this episode, the hosts talk with Hillsong Young and Free about the inspiration behind their latest album, Youth Revival Acoustic and their brand-new single “Love Won’t Let Me Down.” Author Chris Heuertz also joins this episode to discuss his book The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth.

The Sacred Enneagram with Chris Heuertz

Podcast: Good/ True/ & Beautiful with Ashton Gustafson
Hosts: Asthon Gustafson
Contact: ashton.gustafson@gmail.com

iTunes

Christopher L. Heuertz was first introduced to the Enneagram in the slums of Cambodia. Since then he has trained under some of the great living Enneagram masters including Father Richard Rohr, Russ Hudson, Marion Gilbert, and Helen Palmer, and now teaches the Enneagram in workshops and retreats around the world. Chris is an International Enneagram Association Accredited Professional. He and his wife Phileena live in Omaha with their puppy Basil, and you can join him on Facebook and Twitter in his intentions to love on the margins.

Christians Love the Enneagram with Expert Chris Heuertz

Podcast: BadChristian Podcast
Hosts: Matt, Toby, and Joey
Contact: hello@badchristian.com

iTunes

We talk to Chris Heuertz, best-selling author of “The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth” partially just to find out if this enneagram stuff is legit or not. We discuss whether it was created by humans as a tool for understanding, or is innate to a deeper spiritual truth of how we’re created. Matt shares some BC Music news, and Joey witnesses the potential animalistic tendencies of humans when he waited in line for sandbags in preparing for the approaching hurricane. 

Sacred Enneagram with Chris Heuertz of Gravity Center

Podcast: Voices Podcast
Hosts: Gary Hale & Kyle McKee
Contact: NA

Listen to Podcast, iTunes

Episode 12 with Chris Heuertz is all about his newest book, “Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth.” Chris is the co-founder of Gravity, a Center for Contemplation and Action. He speaks all over the world, leads retreats and was named one of Outreach Magazine’s “30 Emerging Influencers Reshaping Leadership.” Chris talks with us about the enneagram, self-reflection and doing deep inner work in our lives. While there are many books on the enneagram, Chris takes you beyond caricatures to how our enneagram type aligns with prayer postures which lead to spiritual growth.

Chris Heuertz on Contemplative Activism | Founding Partner of Gravity & Author of Unexpected Gifts

Podcast: RePlacing Church
Host: Ben Katt
Contact: ben@replacingchurch.org

Website, iTunes

In this episode of RePlacing Church, Chris joins Ben to discuss:

    • What the Enneagram is and why it matters
    • How our Western culture affects our understanding of self and personality types
    • Why our desires for wisdom require doing the hard work of self-evaluation
    • The historical context of the Enneagram and it’s present popular usage
    • How greater self-understanding can help us connect with God and people
    • How the Enneagram can help us turn contemplative practices into embodied practices

cocooned

by Debbie Stevenson

In spring 2018 I was on a personal silent retreat. It was one of the last steps before graduating from a 3 year spiritual direction program. During those 3 days of silence, I discovered a desire for expression. I first began to notice this desire during my spiritual direction training and it also arose in sessions with my spiritual director. When I allowed myself to be silent and sit in centering prayer, I noticed a natural creativity flowing within me. I never knew I had any creative abilities. Others have that gift, not me. Or so I thought.

It was after one of those periods of silent listening that this poem came forth. As I live and move as a contemplative in the world, stillness shows me that there is something waiting to be expressed. This poem articulates my experience of discovering, exploring, and expressing a new life as I move through the transformation process. A transformation from closed to opened. Everyday I am more open to all that God has for me as I take flight into wherever that path leads me.

Cocooned By Debbie Stevenson

I have been Cocooned for most of my life,

Dark

Contained

Narrow space

Something is happening in

This space.

Wings form

A light shines

I push to the light

Like an infant pushing

from the womb.

Its wide open here

Spacious

Bright

I feel wings that as I move

are infused with energy,

Ready for flight.

I look back

that cocoon now a tomb

were I to stay any longer.

I look forward

Lift to fly in the direction

Of the one who has called me forth

To this wide world of adventure and love.

I was born again, and again, and again…

 


Debbie Stevenson serves as a School Nurse for a private christian school. She is a recent graduate of Audire The Central Florida Foundation for Spiritual Direction, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. Debbie also serves on the board of Fresh Oil Ministries. Debbie’s many roles include wife, mother, and grandmother. She enjoys sharing contemplative practices with others. Debbie resides in Merritt island, Florida with her husband of 37 years.

born again.

by Kevin Eicher

Many years ago I was deeply involved in what I will call “the church of my youth”. One day a friend asked me a question about my beliefs. That question lead me to other questions and I soon found myself, as I put it then: “lying on the valley floor” beat up and bloody without a single belief I could really hold on to. Over a period of time I developed new beliefs which lead to new questions and new valley experiences until eventually I came to a single unshakable belief: There is a god, and a single question: What’s he like? I have a real heart for the many people I meet that have asked the “questions-that-must-never-be-asked” and found themselves alone and hurting by what they found. I want them to know it’s all part of the journey, and it’s okay. This poem is about the journey of transformation. Transformation…it is painful …it is confusing …it is necessary, I hope it never ends. 

Born again. By Kevin Eicher

I was born into an understanding, of the world around me, 

and my place within it. 

I tried, very hard, to fill that place, in that world. 

 

One day while enjoying the view from the pinnacle of my understanding, 

I caught a glimpse of a distant peak, and the earth moved, 

and I fell, crashing, to a new understanding, with a new place within it. 

I was born again. 

 

One day while enjoying the view from the pinnacle of my new understanding, 

I heard music, and as I listened , my heart broke, 

and I fell, crashing, to a new understanding, with a new place within it. 

I was born again. 

 

One day while enjoying the view from the pinnacle of my new understanding, 

I heard a voice, and my mind doubted the voice, and darkness overcame me, 

and I fell, crashing, to a new understanding, with a new place within it. 

I was born again. 

 

One day while enjoying the view from the pinnacle of my new understanding, 

I felt the waves of the ocean break upon my soul, 

and I was swept away, to a new understanding, with a new place within it. 

I was born again. 

 

One day while enjoying the view from the pinnacle of my new understanding, 

I leaped, heart, mind and soul,  into the view, and the music, and the Word, and the water, 

and I was carried away, to a new understanding, with a new place within it. 

I was born again, and again, and again…

 


Kevin Eicher is a spiritual pilgrim, a thinker, and a creative. He and his wife have used their careers in long distance trucking as an impetus to a simple life and a gateway to relationships and adventures in areas they would otherwise never have encountered.When they are not running the roads or exploring the world, they live in Council Bluffs Iowa with their children and grandchildren. 

metamorphosis

by Allison Cloud

One summer day last year, while repeatedly surrendering to the unraveling of mid-life, I found myself caretaker of two caterpillars, one monarch and one black swallowtail.  As they munched and grew on my screened porch, I was able to watch them molt to their pupa state, the chrysalis.  Did you know that a caterpillar must break itself open to become the chrysalis?  So they can become less themselves and more themselves at the same time?  It was incredible to see.  This liminal space, this in-between became a powerful image to me as I waited and watched throughout the day, meditating and praying with the chrysalis in front of me, but also in my heart, spirit and mind.  I researched what happens to a caterpillar while in the pupa state.  I found scientists who have been able to record the sounds from within a chrysalis.  It is heartbreaking to hear.  Nearly two weeks later, I watched the monarch emerge (I missed the swallowtail, sadly).  The slow and painful process of exiting the chrysalis had me mesmerized.Finally, after the wings had dried, stretched and strengthened, the monarch butterfly took short flights for another hour, then was gone forever.  For my birthday that fall, my husband planted a butterfly garden in our backyard so that I can continue raising them.  Currently, there are hundreds of caterpillar eggs covering the milkweed plants.  I can’t wait to see it all unfold again.

Metamorphosis By Allison Cloud

break me open
wrap darkness around

descend to

despairing

depths
til I

dissolve.

do you hear?
anguished moans
unbearable cries
desperate pleas to

cease

save

still
my suffering.

for I am being
undone
unmade

as I
unlearn
unknown
inside my tomb-womb.

where on the outside all is
jade-green
glittered gold

my tragic beauty

where darkness must become
as light to me

where I must embrace the torment

I consent!
I surrender
to this, my chrysalis.

 


Allison Cloud is a creative and contemplative from Kansas City, who enjoys roles as teacher, leader, wife, mother, gardener, lifelong learner and community theater actress. She serves as Assistant Director of a large KC-area homeschool academy in order to provide them with enrichment and social experiences. When not pursuing these endeavors, Allison raises her four sons, plus butterflies on her porch.  She is beginning spiritual formation and spiritual direction certification through Souljourners and the Benedictine Sisters at Mt. St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas this fall.  Connect with her on Instagram @alcloud.

 

turning tables / space making

by Eric Leroy Wilson

Holy Monday is fast approaching.  I am faced with a time of reflection about Jesus turning over tables and benches as He cleanses the Court of the Gentiles.  While several moments in Jesus’ life are not included in all four gospels this moment certainly is.  John places this event early in the earthly ministry of Jesus while Matthew, Mark and Luke tie this event to the Pharisees justification for his unjust arrest, imprisonment, torture and eventual execution.   This rhythm is still very much in play today.  As we suffer from our current psychosis of nationalism we look for clear cut justification for heavy handed policing, quick convictions, and the expansion of the prison industrial complex.  But Jesus turns over tables.Jesus turns over tables and benches in our lives to jar us into seeing our world in vastly different ways.  Circumstances present themselves on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis to invite us to disenthrall ourselves of our surety, romance with certainty, and our clinging to status quo.  These table turning moments, chance encounters, acts of beauty and of banality, awe inspiring connections with creation, can serve to usher us toward an embrace of Christ counsiousness. In the following poem I attempt to capture this moment of table turning.  The attempt is to explore the moment in the temple frozen in time and space where Jesus takes radical action to shake the world out of it’s lust for isolationism and avarice.  May it serve to speed us towards a day where there is space made for all. 

Turning Tables/Space Making
By Eric Leroy Wilson 

The gasped word “wait“ hangs full bodied in thick air. 

Tables fly and the jangle of shekels, silver coined clashing ring like the sound you’d image the song sun beans make.  

Tables and benches in slowed rotation in space before gravity gets it way. 

Wait…. Hold on…

 

Muscles of a Rabbi exhale as wood gives way to force, 

Hands that would soon hold nails find release as objects once supine now fly.

The gasp of a moneychanger far too familiar with his own greed,

The flutter of birds questioning why are they now freed,

The strain of a vein on the furrowed visage of a gluttonous High Priest,

The subtle pop of boiling blood from the heated hearts of Pharisees hardened for far too long,

Wait… hold on… My hand half raised. 

 

As the guttural rumble of oxen grow to the beginning of their baying,

As the sheep build up pressure behind pallets for their bleating,

As Peter reaches for the prophet for restraining,

As the corner of my eye clinches to protect for projectiles and stray pinions,

Far away in some far corner of creation a host of six winged angels fall back defensive.

As God and the Holy Spirit shout acclamation,

Empire is critiqued, with no need for explanation.

What was alluded to as implicit now made full physical and explicit.

Sweat from a Saviors brow now dripping.

Wait… wait… hold on, I stutter with one hand raised.

 

The crack of leather cuts the fleshy back of open temple atmosphere.

A gall force wind whips with a backhand slash.

I’m pushed forward by the blast.

If only to stand, adjusting tendon, sinew and calf.

Heart being pushed from its lodging by a battle cry I never knew I knew.

A yell held silent for thousands of years I find myself now screaming:

Wait!

Wait!

Wait!

 

His rage so well placed; 

Not on merchant, 

Buyer, 

Banker, 

Or priest.

But on this nationalism so ensnaring there is no place for the other to be. 

An anger made beautiful by its sublimity.

Wait!

Hold on Jesus!

You would do all of this for me?

To make space for the likes of us to pray?

And find our way,

In the presence of loving

Trinity.

 


Eric Wilson serves as the Associate Chaplain at Pepperdine University in Malibu California.  Wilson is a certified Spiritual Director, Executive Coach and is a religion blogger for the HuffPost.  He is an award winning playwright and theatrical director.  His work has been published and performed around the country including the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  Eric’s work attempts to leverage contemplative practice, the arts, and soul care for the purpose of fostering social justice in the world. Wilson’s book, Faith the First Seven Lessons was released Fall of 2016.

*header photo credit: Tomasz Sroka

Second Axial Awakening

by Matthew Wright

Running through the history of our planet is a current of spiritual awakening. Beginning as a trickle, it flows through the cracks of history, touching at first individuals, now washing out, over and through interconnected circles, building in force, moving to gather up all things in its embrace.

The current flowed in the first great Axial Age, awakening us to a new depth. Abraham and Sarah left tribe and tribal gods to seek after the One. The Indian rishis retired to their caves in search of the Self. The Buddha left wife and child in the palace and set off on his quest for enlightenment. Ties with family, tribe, and Earth were broken and a new possibility emerged.

We climbed ladders of ascent and journeyed into subtle realms of Spirit. We touched the Transcendent. And often we imagined that we had discovered the purpose of our existence: escape from this world, a flight to the Beyond. We struggled to break the cycle of suffering and rebirth and to attain to the heavenly prize.

All the while the water continued to quietly flow, its force increased through the door that was opened. Not at all what we had imagined—an escape route—this channel instead allowed the qualities of Spirit to flow more fully into this world, guiding the evolution of our planet toward its fullness as an ever-deepening revelation of the Divine Heart.

This is the story I imagine as I ponder the subtle shift being felt around our planet today. For the longest swath of our history, we’ve imagined the spiritual journey as an individual quest for salvation or enlightenment, with the ultimate goal of escape, or liberation, from the world of matter. Whether we’ve seen the problem as samsara and suffering or falleness and sin, something is wrong with this place—and we want out! Images of separation and exile have long dominated our spiritual consciousness.

But slowly over the past century, and now with increasing speed, a sense of oneness is emerging in the consciousness of our planetary body. We are realizing instead that we belong. Multiple strands of knowledge point us to this truth: from environmentalists, recognizing that we are part of a global ecosystem; to quantum physicists, uncovering the deep interconnection at the most subtle levels of matter; to evolutionary biologists, revealing life’s unfolding as a vast, single process. Slowly we are beginning to discover that there is ultimately no separation within the field of existence—only one seamless dance. We belong deeply to this world, interwoven fully into its fabric.

This realization is forming the headwaters of a Second Axial Age[1], another great shift in consciousness equal in weight to that which gave rise (roughly between 800 and 200 BCE[2]) to the impulse that eventually manifested as our existing great religious structures. With that first great turn of the wheel, we opened to the beauty of the individual and the possibility of the Transcendent, and a new human journey began. But in the process we lost much of an earlier, collective sense of belonging rooted in tribe, and a deep, felt sense of connection to Earth.

In this next great turn in the spiral dance, we are picking up what was lost—no longer at the tribal, but at the global level. We are entering a period of deep integration, weaving together the primal, collective, and cosmic with the rational, individual, and transcendent—binding together Heaven and Earth. The Divine Heart is moving towards the fullness of its expression in form. With this new turn of the wheel, we release our sense of exile and settle in for the work at hand. Our Second Axial awareness begins from a new starting place: union. We have never been separate: not from one another, not from the Earth that holds us, not from the Infinite we long for.

Instead, we discover that our longing is itself the longing of the Divine Heart, struggling to come to birth in the world of form; it is the very current of awakening that drives the planet toward its fullness. We have misunderstood this longing as a defect—a symptom of our exile. It is instead the deepest sign of our belonging to the work of this world. It is the driveshaft of the entire evolutionary process as we move towards our awakening as a single planetary body.

We have not been left unprepared for this work. While the Second Axial impulse is only now gaining global traction, it has been subtly shaping the spiritual currents of our planet for the last two thousand years. We see it forcefully in the rise of the Bodhisattva vow within Mahayana Buddhism: a shift away from individual enlightenment and escape into Nirvana, toward a pledge to remain in the phenomenal world for the service of collective awakening.

We see it in the birth of Christianity, directly in the life of Jesus, who rejected a First Axial ascetic path in favor of one that fully embraced the world—he feasted, danced, and wept, all the while associating with those designated outcasts and sinners. He refused to recognize the expected divisions between sacred and profane. This full on embrace of phenomenal existence was enshrined in Christianity’s core doctrine of the Incarnation—that “the Word became flesh” in the world “God so loved”—but the Second Axial impulse of its founder was repeatedly roped back into the existing First Axial road maps.

Most clearly, perhaps, we see the Second Axial emergence in Islam and its mystical tradition, Sufism. The Islamic world took the rhythm of monastic prayer and offered it in the marketplace. Like Christianity, it broke out of the ethnic and tribal identity of its parent religion, Judaism (which itself never completely lost touch with its pre-Axial earthiness and embrace of the world). Islam’s mystical path, based on the life of a prophet who was husband, lover, parent, warrior, and statesman, found it practically impossible to give way to the First Axial impulse toward asceticism and monasticism. Sufism pledged to keep the contemplative life fully integrated into the life of the world. It was in many ways the first wave of what many today are calling “the new monasticism.”

Today we can claim these streams for what they are: the early in-breaking of Second Axial consciousness, a dramatic shift away from the dualistic separation of “Spirit” from “world.” Channels for these waters are the ones we must dig and deepen. As this Second Axial Awakening takes hold on the global scale, we must begin the work of reimagining and realigning our First Axial religions. What will change when we see these great traditions as so many currents within a vast planetary movement of awakening and integration? How will we carry their wisdom forward in an age characterized by a primary consciousness of union, belonging, and interconnection?

I believe that our hope still lies in our religions, and that we abandon them at a great loss. They hold much of the wisdom we will need in this next great transformation. But the invitation now is to a dance, not a lecture. The traditions will no longer be only the teachers, but the students as well. As they teach us, we will teach them. The evolution, like all such dances, will be mutual. The wheel will turn once more and the waters will flow powerful and strong, the Divine Heartbeat loud and full.

[1] named such by Ewert Cousins in his stunning Christ of the 21st Century (New York, NY: Continuum, 1992), 7ff.

[2] credit for naming this window of history the “Axial Age” goes to Karl Jaspers in his seminal Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History (Zurich: Artemis, 1949), 19-43.


 Matthew Wright is an Episcopal priest working to renew the Christian Wisdom tradition within a wider interspiritual framework. Alongside his practice of Christianity, he draws deeply from the sacred worlds of Islamic Sufism and Vedanta. Matthew serves as priest-in-charge at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, NY and is a teacher for Northeast Wisdom, a non-profit rooted in the contemplative teaching lineage of Cynthia Bourgeault. He lives with his wife Yanick alongside the brothers of Holy Cross Monastery. Matthew is an up-and-coming speaker and retreat leader, and regular contributor for the Contemplative Journal where he writes on a variety of spiritual subjects.

This article originally appeared at http://contemplativejournal.com/second-axial-age-awakening/.

*header photo credit: NASA

The Enneagram as a Tool for Excavating Your Essence with Chris Heuertz (Author of The Sacred Enneagram)

Podcast: Contemplify
Host: Paul Swanson
Contact: hello@contemplify.com

iTunes

Enneagram teacher Chris Heuertz will help you understand how to utilize the Enneagram to work with these questions with a deeper sense of self-awareness to find your way home to your True Self. He is the author of The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth.

New Contemplative Leaders Exchange

 A Reflection by Phileena Heuertz

 

Last year, at the invitation of renowned Cistercian monk Fr. Thomas Keating, four of among the most prominent living western Christian contemplative teachers gathered in Snowmass at St. Benedict’s Monastery. In addition to Fr. Keating, three others gathered in respectful friendship: Rev. Dr. Tilden Edwards, Fr. Laurence Freeman, and Fr. Richard Rohr. Each of these men are recognized as being at the forefront of the Western Christian contemplative renewal, and each founded respective contemplative organizations.

United by their shared commitment to the Christian contemplative tradition and concern for the healing of our world, after their week-long dialogue, they determined it was important to gather a group of younger contemplative leaders. A name for the gathering soon emerged: “New Contemplative Leaders Exchange.” It was important to the founders that this be a genuine “exchange,” learning from one another and the Holy Spirit within each of us.

So, August 14-18, 2017, I joined twenty other “younger” contemplatives at Snowmass, along with the four teachers who invited us. We were organized in groups of five or six according to the founder and his organization that we were representing.

Rev. Dr. Margaret Benefiel, the current Executive Director of Shalem, was asked by the founders to facilitate our conversations, and the entire gathering was funded by the Trust for the Meditation Process, Minneapolis, MN.

As you can imagine, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was so honored to be included in the meeting, and upon arrival was greeted by some of the brightest and most compassionate Christians I’ve ever met.

While it was obvious that we were not the only younger leaders on the contemplative landscape, it was apparent that our relationship with the teachers was one of trust. We had been invited out of the inspiration that emerged among the elders the year prior. They wanted to identify a few younger contemplatives who could be entrusted with their wisdom lineages in order to nurture and advance the movement in the coming years.

Following are the next generation contemplative leaders who were present at the Exchange, representing the corresponding founders and their organizations. 


Tilden Edwards, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation:

Thomas J. Bushlack, Ph.D. St. Louis, MO, Associate Professor of Theology & Christian Ethics, Aquinas Institute of Theology, Representative to the Exchange and Trustee, Trust for Meditation Process

Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham, Gainesville, GA, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church

Bo Karen Lee, Ph.D., Princeton, NJ, Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology and Formation, Princeton Theological Seminary

Jessica (Jessie) M. Smith, Ph.D., Washington DC, Director of Research and Planning, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church

Rev. Matthew Wright, Woodstock, NY, Rector, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church

Laurence Freeman, World Community for Christian Meditation:

Sarah Bachelard, Bruce, Australia, Director Benedictus Contemplative Church

Drs. Sicco Claus, MaPhil, Den Haag, Netherlands, Ph.D. student,  public school teacher, and National Coordinator of the Netherlands for World Community for Christian Meditation

Leonardo Correa, Porto Alecre, Brazil, Director of Communications, World Community for Christian Meditation

Karen Pedigo, Ph.D., Frankfort, IL, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, The Center for Mindfulness Psychotherapy, Teacher, World Community for Christian Meditation

Fr. Vladimir Volrab, Decin, Czech Republic, Hussite Priest, Bishop’s Vicar, National Coordinator of World Community for Christian Meditation

Thomas Keating, Contemplative Outreach:

Sabina Alkire, Ph.D., Oxford, United Kingdom, Director Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford, Associate Priest, Parish of Cowley St John, East Oxford 

Erik Keeney, Snowmass, CO, Cistercian monk St. Benedict’s Monastery, OCSO, Thomas Keating’s assistant

Mark Kutolowski, Thetford, VT, Metanoia of Vermont

Fr. Justin Lanier, Bennington, VT, Rector, St. Peter’s Church

Rory McEntee, Madison, NJ, Ph.D. student, Drew University

Rafael Dickson Morales, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation:

Adam Bucko, Nashotah, WI, M.Div. student, Nashota House Theological Seminary

Phileena Heuertz, Omaha, NE, Founding Partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

Mark Longhurst, Williamstown, MA, Pastor, First Congregational Church, Editor, Ordinary Mystic, www.ordinarymystic.net

Kirsten Oates, Sausalito, CA, Managing Director Program Design and Teacher Relations, Center for Action and Contemplation

Gabrielle Stoner, Ada, MI, M.A. theology student Chicago Theological Seminary

 


During the course of four days we began each morning at 6:30 for meditation, followed by grand silence through breakfast until beginning our dialogue for the day at 9:30 am. Two more meditation or silent prayer sits punctuated the days, in addition to prayer and Eucharist with Fr. Thomas’ Cistercian, (Trappist), community.

During the first complete day, the left brain came out in full force with each group proposing important issues of concern for the future of the contemplative movement. Chief among the issues included addressing two elements in the movement’s shadow: one that is dominated by white middle and upper class Christians and lacking concerted action for social change. Several recognized the poverty of our friendships and the need to join with more leaders of color to be able to do the collective healing our world needs.

The Rohr group, of which I was a part, made the following statement:

We cherish the gifts of the Christian Contemplative Tradition. We honor the lives and work of our founders who have evolved this tradition. We desire to participate in evolving this contemplative tradition and make it accessible to the masses because we believe in its relevancy and transformative depth. 

And for it to be truly transformative we need to address our movement’s current shadow:

We recognize the poverty of our friendships in this Exchange and desire to heal divisions with historically oppressed people unrepresented through humble, open, dialogue, friendship, and co-creating communion paradigm models (social justice).

Our ideas shape reality. Incarnational theology and embodied mysticism require paying attention to the bodies around us.

Teresa Pasquale Mateus’ leadership with the Mystic Soul Conference coming up in January 2018 was mentioned, and members were invited to consider attending the conference to listen, learn, and build community.

Other issues brought into focus included:

  • The phenomenology of contemplation from impasse (domination paradigms) to prophecy (communion paradigms)
  • Networking (How to connect and harness the wisdom of the contemplative spectrum)
  • Formation and Educational Models (Congregations, communities, etc. as schools of contemplative embodiment)
  • Contemplative Action: Prayer, service, activism (How action becomes contemplation)
  • Mindfulness and Christian contemplation
  • Body and incarnational contemplation

By the second day, a significant shift occurred. The right collective brain awakened (no doubt due to our collective prayer sits). This day was marked with vulnerability, deepening friendship, and a commitment to supporting one another.

Being located in the sacred valley of Snowmass, drenched in solitude, silence, and stillness and years and years of collective prayer, and participating in a minimum of ninety minutes of meditation each day, served to help open us to the intuitive, spiritual dimension of our collective body. So that by the final day, we were grounded in friendship and deeper trust, and unified in a collective desire to work together in service of the healing of our world.

But of course, four days for a group of unfamiliar people is hardly enough time to tackle the challenges before us.

So, by the final day, with the left and right hemispheres of our collective primary brain united, and the secondary brain (our intuitive gut) energized, and with the insights and wisdom of our founders, we agreed to a few modest commitments:

  • Select a representative from each of the four groups who will be responsible for connecting us to the larger body.
  • Continue to nurture the small group entities (organized by the founder we were representing) for deepening friendship, mutual support, and possible initiatives.
  • And to look for ways in which we can all collaborate at greater levels, keeping in view the larger contemplative landscape and its leaders who were not in attendance at this meeting.

This is only the beginning.

Since the founding of Shalem in 1973, Contemplative Outreach in 1984, Center for Action and Contemplation in 1986, and World Community for Christian Meditation in 1991, we have spanned nearly half a century. These renowned Western Christian contemplative teachers and their respective organizations have determinedly helped to renew the Western Christian contemplative tradition for our time. And in all those years of sacrificial service, 2016 was the first year all four of the founders had ever been altogether.

2017 marks a huge shift in connection, friendship, networking, and support for the contemplative movement. It seems only natural that we can anticipate a compounding effect of our meeting this year—the beginning of a commitment to unite contemplatives everywhere in our shared desire to be of service to the evolution of consciousness, and to heal our world through contemplative practice and compassionate action.

Mark Kutolowski put it this way:

“I left feeling incredibly humbled by the deep trust of these four contemplative elders – trust in the Holy Spirit’s work in our generation and in the world. In our group I saw people who have committed their lives to building on the founders’ insights, and who seek to bring the gifts of contemplation to affect bodily transformation and profound social change. I feel great joy in being a part of a community of love who experiences contemplation as central to the Christian story, and is ready to support the larger body of Christ in growing in prayerful intimacy with God.” 


Reference:

Benefiel, Margaret (2017 August 3). “Contemplative Founders Meeting with Young Contemplative Leaders,” Religion News Service. Retrieved from http://religionnews.com/2017/08/03/contemplative-founders-meeting-with-young-contemplative-leaders/

Other New Contemplatives Reflections:

Bushlack, Thomas (2017 August 25). “Bearing (True) Witness,” Creating Space for Transformation. Retrieved from https://thomasjbushlack.com/2017/08/25/bearing-true-witness/

Higginbotham, Stuart (2017 August 25). “Minister’s message: A Journey from impasse to imagination in Christ,” The Times. Retrieved from https://www.gainesvilletimes.com/life/ministers-message-journey-impasse-imagination-christ/

Photo Credit: Tom Bushlack, Richard Rohr, and Phileena Heuertz

 

the shout of sacred consent

by Eric Leroy Wilson

The memories of the older women I observed as a child at Riverview Church are etched indelibly in my mind. This church, built by the sweat and labor of my grandmother and grandfather, was the seedbed of my contemplative life. That church was sacred ground defended and held by these warrior women of faith. Their work-creased hands, sculpted by caring and cotton picking, offered bits of peppermint candy out of the corners of secondhand purses. Their backs were made strong by stooping and picking up the pieces of broken men shattered by a world antagonistic to their very being. These women were fierce. While denied access to adequate education, these women held depth. Their very presence functioned as midwifery to my faith. As they held vigil over their own sorrows during worship they would coax and wheedle the sacred, which was buried within me, to the surface. And these women moaned as the Holy Spirit moaned and as the earth moaned. They sang from a place as deep as the bowels of slave ships and yet from such a thin space you could swear you saw a glimpse of heaven and earth becoming one. And as the preacher preached and as holy words were proclaimed they would say, “Yeeeeeesssssss! This was different than a typical exclamation of, “Amen!” This was not just some throw away, “Hallelujah!” This was a profoundly felt and richly stated, “Yeeeeeesssssss!” And their “Yeeeeeesssssss!” may be the solution to many, if not all of the problems our world faces today, because their “Yeeeeeesssssss!” is so vastly different from the dangerous “yes” of our day. 

So often our “yes” is the reactionary “yes” to obligations we never really bought into. Sometimes we say yes and agree to do things we don’t have time to do only to gain approval from people we don’t even like. The dangerous “yes” of our day is a “yes” to exploitation of the other due to the false vow we make in our heart that we live in a world of lack, want, and scarcityThe “yes” we say from a place of assumed deficiency affirms our willingness to horde resources, turn a blind eye to systemic disparity, and find comfort in our apathy for the other. Yet all the while Jesus invites us to see a world that can feed a multitude with a few loaves and fish. Jesus bursts on the scene turning our eyes from scarcity to living life, and living it to the full. 

Sure there are the benign “yeses” of our day. The “yes” we say to meals with loved ones, the “yes” to walks with four-legged friends, the “yes” to coffee breaks and “yes” to social media likes of smiling babies and silly memes. All of these “yeses” are good and are the stuff of life lived. But so many of the “yeses” we use as common currency purchase for us all hardships when they are spent on agreeing to exploitation, estrangement, and indifference.

But if we look into the depths of our being there is the “Yeeeeeesssssss” within us all. In the recesses of our heart where our spirit and the Spirit of the Divine keep company with one another is our “Yeeeeeesssssss” of sacred consent. This is the place where your heart says “yes” to eternity. There is in the deepest place of your heart a space where you offer consent to all of God’s invitation. This is the place where we say “yes” to God’s invitation to intimacy. This sacred place within is where we say “yes” to God’s invitation to be transformed in the likeness of Christ. This is a likeness characterized by grace, joy, forgiveness, and vast pools of compassion — all of which is willing to be spread thick and wide and indiscriminately over all. In times of silence, stillness, meditation and keeping company with God, God is faithful to reveal this glorious area of our sacred consent. Our job is to familiarize ourselves with this place of sacred consent. And once we are familiar with this space, we must stand up with in this interior place and practice living from our sacred consent.

I’m convinced this is what these women were attesting to so many years ago in that shack of a church building. As the rough-hewn pews creaked under the weight of the lives they carried, these women offered shouts from the place of their sacred consent. While they knew the pain of loving too hard and working fingers to the bone, they also knew there was a place inside themselves where they and their God met. And anytime a passage was read or a song sung or a thought offered that happened to brush up against that place in their heart, they had no choice but to offer to us all a resounding, “Yeeeeeesssssss!” And I’ve spent the better part of my life now trying to find mine. When I do, I pray my “Yeeeeeesssssss!” brings as much light in this world as their “Yeeeeeesssssss!” did mine.


Eric Wilson serves as the Associate Chaplain at Pepperdine University in Malibu California.  Wilson is a certified Spiritual Director, Executive Coach and is a religion blogger for the HuffPost.  He is an award winning playwright and theatrical director.  His work has been published and performed around the country including the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.  Eric’s work attempts to leverage contemplative practice, the arts, and soul care for the purpose of fostering social justice in the world. Wilson’s book, Faith the First Seven Lessons was released Fall of 2016.   

This post originally appeared on HuffPost in February 2016.  
*header photo credit: Kathy Hillacre