Spirituality GatheringMarch 1, 2014

Harnessing the Power of Three: The Trinity as “Skillful Means” [video available here]

Featuring Keynote Speaker Cynthia Bourgeault

Event Brochure

Printable Registration Form

Watch the keynote presentation via live webcast HERE

Modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, Cynthia Bourgeault divides her time between solitude at her seaside hermitage in Maine, and a demanding schedule traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom path. She is the founding Director of both The Contemplative Society and the Aspen Wisdom School.

Cynthia is the author of eight books: The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, The Wisdom Jesus, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, Mystical Hope, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, Chanting the Psalms, and Love is Stronger Than Death. She has also authored or contributed to numerous articles and courses on the Christian spiritual life. She is a past Fellow of the Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural research at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN, and an oblate of New Camaldoli Monastery in Big Sur, California.

Cynthia continues to contribute to The Contemplative Society in her role as Principal Teacher and advisor. She passionately promotes the practice of Centering Prayer, and has worked closely with Thomas Keating, Bruno Barnhart, Richard Rohr, as well as many other contemplative teachers and leaders within the Christian tradition as well as other spiritual paths.

Keynote Presentation: Harnessing the Power of Three: The Trinity as Skillful Means

Cynthia Bourgeault asks us to take a look at an idea from traditional Christianity—this time the formula of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as though we're looking at it for the first time. She finds something we hadn’t expected at all - in the idea of the Holy Trinity a striking vision of the nature of reality. What she claims is that embedded within this theological formula that Christians recite mostly on autopilot lies a powerful metaphysical principle that could change our understanding of Christianity and give us the tools so long and so sorely needed to reunite our shattered cosmology, rekindle our visionary imagination, and cooperate consciously with the manifestation of Jesus's "Kingdom of Heaven" here on earth. She looks to the history of Christian theology, to her own years of contemplative practice, and to the ideas of G. I. Gurdjieff.  "I will do my best to make the ride as smooth as possible," she says, "but in the end, my commitment is to getting there, because I know beyond all personal doubt that there is indeed a ham radio concealed inside this Trinitarian tea cupboard. And in the midst of this long winter of our Christian discontent, when spiritual imagination and boldness are at an all-time low and the church itself hovers at the edge of demise for lack of an animating vision, perhaps now more than ever the time is ripe to remove the packing boards from this tea cupboard and release its contents.”


Deja Vu: Centering Prayer and the Great Quaker Tradition - Cynthia Bourgeault

Centering Prayer is a contemporary form of silent meditation in the Christian tradition,  developed in the 1970s by Roman Catholic Trappist monks to open the treasures of the Christian contemplative heritage to modern spiritual seekers living busy lives in the world. Its points of resonance with the great Quaker tradition of unprogrammed silence are striking, and the dialogue between these two great streams of Christian silent worship is unexpectedly rich and promising—for both traditions.

This workshop will explore Centering Prayer with a particular eye to these points of resonance (both theological and practical) with the Quaker tradition of silence. Hands on experience with this form of meditation will be augmented by reflection and dialogue, augmented by Paulette Meier’s extraordinary recent album “Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong.” 

Yoga and Spirituality - Steven Cleaver

Yoga offers people a chance to integrate mind, body, and spirit into a practice that continues off the mat and into the way life is experienced. In this workshop we will experience several simple asanas (or postures), some pranayama (breathing) techniques and a short meditation. We will look at the intersection of yoga and Christianity and on how a simple practice can be utilized to develop and sustain one’s spiritual health. This workshop is open to all, no matter what level of experience.

Steven Cleaver is a graduate of the Earlham School of Religion, a 200 hour RYT, and the author of Saving Erasmus, which was voted Best Christian Fiction of 2007 by Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. He has taught yoga for over 10 years and continues to work on integrating what he learns from his practice into his life. Steve's website is http://www.stevecleaver.com/.

The Contemplative Absorptions - John March

Drawing on Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, the Buddhist jhanas, and apocalyptic Quaker thought, this workshop will explore the contemplative absorptions in which the heart-mind is absorbed into the Light. We will begin by locating the absorptions within the broad frame of kenotic spiritual practices. We will then work with the one-pointed practice of upacara-samadhi or "access concentration" in which the mind is temporarily freed of self-cherishing.  Our overall goal will be to feel into what Teresa meant when she said: "There is a self-forgetfulness which is so complete that it really seems as though the soul no longer existed…”

John March, is a member of Durham Friends Meeting in Durham, NC, and the Practice Community at Southern Dharma, a lay-monastic Buddhist practice center near Asheville, NC.  A Friend since the late 60’s and recently retired as Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, he has spent close to two years on silent retreat in Buddhist and Christian traditions, and has undertaken formal training in the contemplative absorptions.

Healing Prayer - Marcelle Martin

We were created to help one another receive God's unlimited love, and the world needs our prayers. In this experiential workshop we will learn and practice intimate ways to pray for one another and the world. All of us will be recipients of the healing prayers of others. Come experience God's healing power flowing through you. No special gifts or prior experience necessary.

Marcelle Martin has led workshops at retreat centers and Quaker meetings across the country. While serving as the resident Quaker Studies teacher at Pendle Hill, she often facilitated the weekly meeting for prayer and healing. Her pamphlet Holding One Another in the Light is about intercessory prayer. She was ESR's 2013 Mullen Writing Fellow and is completing a book about the transformative Quaker spiritual journey.   Her blog, A Whole Heart, is at http://awholeheart.com.

Creating a New Story: Redefining Yourself through Art Collage - Mandy Ford

The story of our lives begins to be written from the moment we are born. Words are often attached to us by family and friends, which shape our story before we have the chance to write it ourselves. In this workshop, we will explore our past and current stories, discard the negative and untrue words, and create a new story through journaling and art collage. Participants are encouraged to bring a 4x6 or 5x7 photo of themselves, of any age, that they are willing to alter on their collage. A photocopy of a photo will work just fine. All other supplies will be provided.

Mandy Ford is the Director of External Relations at ESR. A 2001 graduate of Indiana University East, she is an artist, published crafter and professional blogger.  Blending art and writing is one of her passions, as well as being mom to her 5-year-old twin boys. You can find Mandy's artwork online at thisgirlsdoodles.etsy.com and her blog at mandyford.blogspot.com.

The Spiritual Wisdom of Early Friends in Plainsong -  Paulette Meier

Music has a way of opening us up to deeper levels of understanding. This is what people say occurs when they hear the chant-like songs on Paulette Meier’s recording,Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong. Paulette selected quotations from the spiritual writings of early Quaker leaders and set them to plainsong melodies, as a way to memorize and internalize the words. The resulting collection serves to enliven and enlighten modern Friends (and those not familiar with Quakers) to the radical, mystical understanding of Christianity that the 17th century founders of the Quaker way experienced. In this workshop, Paulette will share and teach many of these “song-chants,” providing brief commentary in between the singing. The hope is that participants will come prepared to sing and to build harmony, as the Spirit moves!

Paulette Meier is a Cincinnati based singer/songwriter, whose voice has served to open hearts and raise awareness for over 25 years in the movement for peace and justice. As a peace educator in schools, she produced an award- winning CD of original songs in 2002 entitled: Come Join the Circle: LessonSongs for Peacemaking, which continues to be used in classrooms throughout the country. In 2004, she received the Minnie Jane Artist in Residence Scholarship Award, allowing her to live and study at the national Quaker center, Pendle Hill, for nine months, where her appreciation for Quaker history and spirituality was nourished and deepened. From there, while sojourning among Friends in the Philadelphia area, she began a practice of setting selected passages of 17th century Friends’ writings to chant-like song. In 2010, she co-released with Quaker Press a recording of the resulting collection, titled Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong. Paulette is a member of Community Friends Meeting in Cincinnati.

Schedule of Events:

8:15 - 9:15 am

Registration & Breakfast

9:15 - 9:45 am


10:00 - 11:30 am

Keynote Presentation                

11:30 am - 12:30 pm


12:45 - 2:15 pm

Workshop I

2:15 - 2:30 pm


2:30 - 4:00 pm

Workshop II

4:15 pm

Closing Gathering


Full brochure and registration form to come!

Event Date: 03/01/2014 - 8:00am - 5:00pm