“A Word about Retreat”
What is it like to pray in a language and tradition that differs from our own? What does it feel like to meet others from our heart space? These were two of the questions that Guild members explored together at the spring graduate retreat with Sufi practitioner, Thea Elijah. We practiced opening our heart from back to front and envisioning divine love and energy flowing through us; we experienced chanting prayers in Arabic using prayer beads as a tool for focusing; we were re/minded (“remembering again what we forgot to remember”) that in the unity that is God, language about God, points to one God, creator and redeemer/healer of us all.
In his book, Shaping a Personal Myth to Live By, John Yungblut writes, "The way forward to a new religion, Arnold Toynbee said, is not to try to put together an eclectic religion by borrowing a little here and a little there. What he [Toynbee] prophesied is that the religion of tomorrow will be that religion among the living religions which proves itself so capable of expanding its myth and creating new and viable metaphors that those coming to it from other religions will find that they have lost nothing of value. He dared to hope that Christianity might be the one chosen for this unification. But I am told that in the end he indicted that Sufism might be attempting this task more effectively than Christianity is able to do at this time." We certainly were not looking for “a new religion”, but we did consider the potential impact on our world if more people were less fearful of gathering in prayers with those who differed from us. We considered the impact of doing our part to meet every person, from the grocery store cashier to the phone solicitor, with heart energy. Gathered with Guild friends, we shared, practiced, sat in silence together and were able to catch a glimpse of what it might be like for all the world to gather together in prayerful acceptance of one another. It was a rich and thought provoking weekend. There were times when I felt discomforted, to be sure, but it was the kind of discomfort that led to deeper questions of what it means to engage the spiritual life in all aspects of life and living; of what it means to be in prayer with those whose prayer words and life differ from mine, but whose devotion to God and Spirit resonate with my own; of what it means to practice, truly practice meeting others with heart in the midst of discomfort and even irritability These are all questions, practices and explorations that, I believe, help to deepen compassion in the world and our relationship with God and others.
The weekend also provided opportunities to draw closer together in our commitment to the work of the Guild and in listening to each other. The Annual Meeting on Saturday afternoon invited a deeper, energized conversation about the needs of the Guild and Guild program, particularly the next AP class.
Joan Dieter will be our next Graduate Guild retreat presenter, September 30th through October 2nd. Joan is well known and loved among Guild members and we are always blessed by her presence among us. Joan will be speaking on her passion for the presence of the Numinous in all aspects of life and dreaming. Gather with us to learn and explore ideas with Joan, and to reconnect, refresh and renew relationships with Guild members.