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Guest Author: 
Ashley Davis Bush, LICSW

(Editor's note: Ashley Davis Bush does a beautiful job in this post describing the delights of a silent retreat in the Catholic tradition. It's worth noting that retreats are integral to Hindu, Sufi and Buddhist traditions as well - with meditation and yoga sometimes being themes in modern day silent retreats. Regardless of tradition or focus, retreants who stay silent over a period of days say it deepens awareness and refreshes the spirit.) 

I recently told an acquaintance that I was headed for a silent retreat weekend.  “I go to this monastery in Cambridge several times a year,” I beamed. She looked at me with a blank stare and asked increduously, ‘Why?’  The implication was that it must be dreadfully boring, even a waste of time.  

Why do I go?  Upon reflection, I would say that I go as an act of self-care -- to carve out space for personal contemplation, to be amidst a monastic community, to nurture my spirit, to rest; and to spend quality time with God.

Guest Author: 
Hans Hallundbaek, MDiv, DMin

 

Prison metes out segregation, isolation and punishment for ill deeds. Out of public sight, prison often becomes a place of brutality, mistreatment and unimagined human suffering for those incarcerated.

However, given the proper guidance, prison also has the potential to become a place of transformation and healing. An incarcerated person can also develop as a highly spiritual individual.

Once awakened to the inherent spiritual impulse, a person in longtime incarceration, with a little creativity and help from the outside, has the time and opportunity to turn his or her prison time into a “monastic” experience.

Guest Author: 
Rev. Dr. Peter Bentley

Australia is primarily a very dry and barren country on the surface. Much of the continent’s landscape is covered with semi-arid vegetation that comes and goes with the various seasons. However, hidden deep under 23 percent of the continent is what is known as the Great Artesian Basin, which is the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world, according to Wikipedia. This basin provides fresh water to many of the dry inland areas of Australia spanning four states and territories. The basin lies in some places more than a kilometre below the surface.

Guest Author: 
Alex Moore

For the better part of my life, I was a tried and true skeptic. I inherited my astute atheism on my father’s side of the family and my difficult childhood turned me into a full-blown cynical nihilist. For me, the world was a bland and robotic exchange of pleasantries. By the time I turned 18, I saw human interaction as an endless string of small talk that I had to put up with until the day I died.

Dealing with My Mental Illness

Simply put, I was lost. Oddly enough, my revelation came to me at a very strange and unexpected time in my life. I was 25 years old and dealing with the acute stage of schizophrenia. I didn’t even realize there was something this deeply wrong with me up to this point. Mental illness is funny like that.

It was a day like any other, not particularly memorable but not too glum either. I was at home watching the news, when all of a sudden, the world felt off. I can’t begin to explain that dreaded feeling, but if you went through it, you will know exactly what I mean.

And then the hallucinations started, and I experienced my first major psychotic break.

Guest Author: 
Janice L. Lundy, DMin

 

"To find one’s center—to become centered in the Infinite --
is the first great essential of every satisfactory life.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world is not an easy place in which to live. There seems to be danger and trouble everywhere. The human mind is not an easy place to live either! Even when things seem good in our ordinary lives, the activity of our mind can easily slide us into fear, worry or anxiety.

Guest Author: 
Karen Lee Erlichman, D.Min, LCSW

The Unbroken

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken
a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of which darkness we are sanctioned into being.
 
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open
to the place inside
which is unbreakable
and whole,
while learning to sing.

 ~Rashani

 

The journey toward wholeness invites us into a compassionate relationship with our own brokenness. Being in community creates a sacred space in which we can tenderly hold this paradox together. Poet, artist and activist Rashani writes in the above poem, we “break open to the place inside which is unbreakable and whole.”

Years ago, in my first experience with a Circle of Trust ®, I found a community in which my soul felt safe enough to reveal (to myself and others) the textures and terrains of my own brokenness. Over the years of participating in, and later facilitating, Circles of Trust ® and other retreats, this breaking through of true soul/self has yielded a profound experience of healing into wholeness.

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