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Participating in the workshops of Emerging Wisdom will be a transformational experience where ancient truths are celebrated and new insights are discovered. The workshops are presented by contemplatives from around the world. CEUs are available for workshop participants. Come to engage, participate, and learn from the SDI global learning community. To learn more about a presenter, click on his or her name.
Conference participants choose two seventy-five minute workshops a day or one three-hour field trip.
The percent (%) figures following workshop descriptions indicate the relative percentage of presentation, discussion, and experiential activity.
W1. The Dynamics of Discernment in the Life and Writings of Thomas Merton
(Susan Rakoczy, IHM, PhD)
Together, we will examine the dynamics of the experience of discernment in Thomas Merton’s life and writings. We will focus Merton’s discernment of his vocation as monk and writer; Merton’s turn to the world, that is, the dynamics of his commitment to social justice; discernment of the true self and the false self; and a synthesis of principles of discernment within Merton’s spirituality.
67% Presentation, 33% Discussion
W2. Relationship as Prayer: Learning to See the World Anew with Franciscan Spirituality
(Dan Horan, OFM)
Francis of Assisi remains one of the most popular figures in history and has come into the worldwide spotlight in a new way with Pope Francis, who takes his name and pastoral inspiration from the saint. Most are familiar with Francis's life and writings, but few are well versed in "Franciscan spirituality."
This workshop presents new insights from the Franciscan tradition brought together in a dynamic, creative, and renewing spiritual vision. The themes presented provide an introductory approach to the many riches of the tradition named for Francis and Clare of Assisi, guiding participants in renewing our sense of communication with the divine and seeing the world in a new way.
60% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 10% Experiential
W3. Teaching Wisdom: Offering the Wings of Awakening
(Rev. Jane E. Vennard, MDiv)
In the Zen Buddhist tradition, it is believed that teachers cannot teach their students how to wake up; they can only provide them with the wings of awakening. This is true for spiritual directors as well. In this workshop we will explore what those wings might be, discuss gentle ways to offer them, and discover together how the qualities of authenticity, humility, surrender, and humor can facilitate the birth and growth of wisdom.
33% Presentation, 33% Discussion, 33% Experiential
W4. Entering the Silence with Teresa of Avila
(Rev. Dwight H. Judy, PhD)
This workshop focuses on the stages of prayer described by Saint Teresa in the sixteenth century. We will explore the prayer of recollection, the prayer of quiet, and the prayer of union. As we journey through the seven mansions of The Interior Castle, Teresa relates these prayer experiences to the process of spiritual awakening. A guided contemplative prayer experience utilizing Teresa’s images of the interior crystal, diamond, and castle will illustrate the deepening in silence that she describes.
50% Presentation, 25% Discussion, 25% Experiential
W5. Emerging Wisdom: The Beauty of Silence in a Contemplative Garden
Listening to the mystical beauty of silence within a meditative garden creates a sacred space to support the emerging wisdom of a contemplative lifestyle. Participants will explore: creating a contemplative garden as a means of personal creative expression; spiritual direction practices within a contemplative garden for personal reflection, reconnection with Spirit and rejuvenation; and inviting the wisdom of Spirit by offering spiritual direction in a contemplative garden space.
30% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 40% Experiential
W6. Getting Down to Business: A Ceaseless Mind to Ceaseless Mindfulness in the Workplace
(Lance Ng, MA)
The allure of being a “human doing” rather than a “human being” is prevalent in the professional world, oftentimes leading to overwork, manic anxiety, and fear. This workshop will utilize contemplative practices to engage the ceaseless mind, so that participants can navigate the professional world through intrapersonal equanimity and a perspective of altruism. In doing so, ministry can be transformed from work and duty to service and love, allowing participants to attend to the realities of life as spiritual caregivers.
30% Presentation, 20% Discussion, 50% Experiential
W7. Emerging East-West Wisdom: Contemplation and Awareness through Body, Art, and Silence
Limited Space Available
Using contemplative tools from both east and west, participants will engage with practices designed to enhance their spiritual di. rection ministry. Participants will use silence, somatic awareness, and creative expression activities to build trust, mutual vulnerability, and community. Practical applications of such practices within the spiritual direction professions will also be discussed.
25% Presentation, 25% Discussion, 50% Experiential
W8. Thomas Merton: Taoist and Poet
The workshop will address Merton’s contemplative practice in light of Taoist principles, including his translation of The Way of Chuang Tzu. We will read and explore Merton’s poetry as well as the poetry of Chuang Tzu, Li T’ai Po, Tu Fu, Xue Tao, Wang Wei, and Li Ching Chao. Their poetry offers Taoist contemplative ways of life where Christianity and Taoism meet.
50% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 20% Experiential
W9. The Resurrection Power of Spiritual Direction and Soul Care from an African American Perspective
(Barbara Lewis Peacock)
The African American community has a rich heritage of spiritual direction and soul care. Such roots emerged from the continent of Africa, continued its development throughout the Middle Passage, survived under oppressive conditions, and with tenacity spiritually pressed forward into the twenty-first century. Come and learn about the cultural and spiritual influences on the rich development of African American spiritual direction and soul care.
65% Presentation, 35% Discussion
W10. Looking Into the Eye of the Universe: Facing Reality in Contemplative Practice
Our preconceptions of spiritual experience can be one of our greatest obstacles to direct encounter with the Divine. When we gaze directly into the flame of experience without preconceptions, without flinching from truth, our connection to ourselves, our world, and our spiritual practice becomes deeper. This workshop offers traditional meditation and mindfulness practices to see more directly into the nature of reality, to deepen our spiritual practice regardless of tradition, and more effectively serve others.
20% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 50% Experiential
W11. Circle of Imagination: A Community Encounter with Art and Poetry
(Melanie Weidner, MDiv)
Experience the joy of a collaborative, heart-felt spiritual conversation. Through the evocative power of imagery and poetry, we will imagine our way into fresh insights and real connections with Spirit and each other. After we engage images and poems, we’ll reflect creatively in brief free writing and simple drawing. Spark your spiritual imagination, refresh your spirit, experience a creative group spiritual direction model, and collect new resources for your ministry and service.
20% Presentation, 50% Discussion, 30% Experiential
W12. Growing Deeper as We Grow Older: A Wisdom Circle
(Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman, MSC, MAJCS, BCC)
Aging is associated with wisdom in our spiritual traditions, but becoming wise does not just happen. We must cultivate wisdom in order to attain it. Together, we will explore a modality for doing just that: a wisdom circle. We shall create what Parker Palmer calls “a circle of trust,” blending contemplative, silent meditation, partnered study of a scriptural text, and opportunities to share personal perspectives/insights as we explore challenges of growing older. Enrollment limited.
20% Presentation, 10% Discussion, 70% Experiential
W13. Ezekiel: The Merkabah and the Role of the Imagination in Spirituality
(Ruth Broyde Sharone)
Using the powerful, vivid imagery of the biblical passage describing Ezekiel's ascent to the heavenly throne—also known as the merkabah—participants will enter into a guided meditation. Afterwards, they will be given an opportunity to journal their experiences and share with the larger group. The emphasis will be on ways to harness the merkabah experience for individual and group healing through the cultivation of imagination.
20% Presentation, 30% Discussion, 50% Experiential
W14. Non-Verbal Spiritual Leadership: How Our Energetics Affect Pathways to the Heart
Non-verbal communication holds the power of silence while being fully present with an open heart, grounded feet, and hollow body for Spirit to fill. We will journey into our hearts and discover tools to heal ourselves so we can show up and be present in our strength. Coming into our powers as spiritual leaders facilitates the openness and growth in which we serve the Divine by guiding others on their journey.
40% Presentation, 10% Discussion, 50% Experiential
W15. Spiritual Direction with the Poor
(Ellen Kogstad, MS, MA)
Offering spiritual direction to the poor requires a gentle sensitivity to challenging life situations and environments of non-traditional spiritual directees. We will discuss engagement models currently in use; funding ideas; our discipline in the context of prisons, not-for-profit agencies, shelters and more; and the experience of short-term spiritual direction, which I call process spiritual direction. Participants will become better prepared to welcome and listen to the poor in their ministry and service of spiritual direction.
60% Presentation, 40% Discussion
Wednesday Field Trip: Finding the Holy in the Ordinary: Downtown Pilgrim Walk
Join us for a leisurely walk through downtown Louisville, Kentucky. As pilgrims and not just ordinary tourists, we will allow God to transform our sacred imagination, intentionally seeking the holy within and around us. Pausing at places of interest, we will read from Thomas Merton and other contemplative writers and poets, exploring imagination, social justice, and silence. Even in the busy city, quiet walking and attentive listening encourage new ways of prayer, perhaps discovering our own “epiphany” on a Louisville street corner!
30% Presentation, 10% Discussion, 60% Experiential