Six years ago I went on my first Sabbatical. I traveled from South Africa to England to different parts of Europe visiting sacred sites, Cathedrals, Monasteries, the Taizé Community and many other places. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and chronicled in my previous blog, Aelred’s Garden.
For the past eighteen months I’ve been enrolled in the Shalem Institute (shalem.org) for certification in the area of Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats. This summer (beginning after church on June 21) I’ll embark on a second Sabbatical. Rather than going far and wide in the world, I hope to delve deeper and wider into the sacred space of prayer and contemplation.
I’ve been exploring a piece of the vast wealth of work by Christian writers and mystics throughout the centuries on their teaching and discoveries. In the twelfth century the monk Guigo II wrote a short treatise that has inspired countless other mystics and writers to explore the depths of Contemplative Prayer. He expands on a four rung ladder naming reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation as the way to glimpse God.
The focus of this Sabbatical will be to develop my own contemplative prayer practice as well as organize and conduct retreats on a small scale that invite others into this mystical discipline and tradition. The purpose of this blog will be to share insights and experiences along the way. My hope in returning on Homecoming Sunday (Sept. 20) will be to schedule a series of Quiet Days and retreats for the parish to invite all who might be interested in this form or prayer to experience God in a new way.