Contemplative Outreach of Greater Vancouver
(COGV)

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10

Reflections

We invite you to share reflections and insights arising from your Centering Prayer practice, thoughts about or growing from your prayer in private, in a CP group, at retreats and other COGV events. Some other suggestions:

  • If you have participated in the Contemplative Life Program, your thoughts and experiences on the topics covered.
  • Growth and challenges living the contemplative values of silence, solitude, simplicity and service.
  • Book reviews.
  • Your reflections on anything related to Centering Prayer, spoken from your own experience (prose or poetry) which would support others on the contemplative path.
We welcome your participation. If you wish to submit material for "Reflections" please email your copy to Judith Donaldson at juditha_donaldson@telus.net.


Reflection
July 2014

Coming to my Centering Prayer group meetings is honestly the spiritual highlight of my week. The idea of getting together in a totally non-judgemental environment with Christians from different denominations and various backgrounds just for the purpose of listening to God's voice truly energises me.

Centering Prayer provides an opportunity for direct contact with the Spirit of God which in turn leads to transformation in the Christian life. I often feel the Spirit is like a great whale who regularly surfaces and then disappears under water for a period of time. Even though you can't see Him or can't predict when or where He will resurface in your life, you KNOW He is there. Coming to my centering group is part of getting ready for the next resurfacing.       Jiri Slovencik. 


June 29, 2013

Practicing Centering Prayer awakens one to deeper meaning as life becomes, by extension, a spiritual journey that reflects the practice itself: trust, surrender, gentleness, acceptance, self-awareness, and much more.

Silent, Centering Prayer retreats, such as those offered by Contemplative Outreach, enable one's prayer life to be further purified and enriched in community.

The regular Silent Saturdays held throughout the Greater Vancouver area are a blessing to many of us, as are the four-day silent retreats held annually in the fall. The longer, seven-day retreat, such as that held this spring provide the environment and time to go and grow deeper exponentially.

COGV has recently welcomed and held such a retreat where participants experienced a deepening of their experience with God.

We are profoundly grateful to our spiritual director and retreat leader, Wendy Eyre-Grey, for the way in which she guides and supports us in maintaining that deep silence that is so healing and awakening.

The Twin Creeks Lodge where the retreat was held is easily accessible and just about an hour from Vancouver in the lush Fraser Valley. It is a perfect place to appreciate the varied and many birds, deer, rabbit, and walks in the forest beside the creeks, as one listens to what the Spirit is saying.

As we were led through brief experiential teachings of Thomas Keating, Carl Arico and Abbott Joseph Boyle, I was strengthened in my spiritual journey and realized a more subtle relationship with Christ.

I pray that if you are called that you too will find a way to experience this blessing.


June 08, 2010

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Thomas Keating refers to the Sacrament of the Present Moment to impress upon us the gift and grace that is found in the Eternal Now. At the COGV silent retreat held at Bethlehem Retreat Centre in May, we were encouraged to live more consciously so that we might be aware of the gifts that are constantly bestowed upon us. To express the moments of consciousness that touched us, it was suggested we express our gratitude and wonder in the form of Haiku.

Traditionally a Haiku is made up of seventeen syllables, in three lines of 5-7-5. Form is less important, however, than the moments that were experienced and expressed with love.

The following are some of the Haikus written at the retreat. Thanks to those who shared their beautiful moments.

Trillium

Alone on the woodland path
Pink-tipped trillium
Overhead the dogwoods bob.

Judith Ann Donaldson

Koi in Pond

Water mesmerizes,
Glimpse of orange among rocks,
Elusive Koi seen.

Karen Duddy

The Runner

She breaks out a huge grin
Saving the world with her smile
Joy is in her wake

Jill Halliwell

Love's Holy Circle

Love's holy circle
Sixteen robed women wait
To sink in the deep end

Jill Halliwell

Last Dance

Setting sun's rays
Catch a multitude of silver wings
Having a last dance

Jill Halliwell

Ladybug

Ladybug from home
Your wings have carried you far
On your long journey

Shelley Harris

Just Being

A duck allowed me
to watch him being a duck.
It was very sweet

Anne Larochelle

Surrender

Time and space collapse
Into the Eternal Now
Spirit and Will are one.

Anne Larochelle

Time to Leave

You kissed us good-bye
with sunshine and gentle breeze.
Come back and be fed.

Anne Larochelle

Origami

Ten fingers struggle
to fashion a paper crane.
One Breath created all.

Anne Larochelle

Contrast

Show off your new buds
Old Ash tree red with berries
Beauty old and new

Lorraine Struyk


"The following reflection and poem were submitted by Karen Duddy of Vancouver, BC. Karen is an active supporter of Contemplative Outreach of Greater Vancouver. We are grateful to her for allowing us to publish her thoughts on our website."

I went on a journey of three silent retreats within three months. Oh, what a journey it was! God held me gently within Her arms allowing me to become aware of the simple things, allowing me time to quietly sit with my senses, and allowing me the opportunity to go deeper within. "All will be revealed" was the gift given to me at that first retreat. Then the journey became very deep and turmoil set in. Intense feelings and issues were rising up. The dark night of the sense was upon me. Where was the warm embrace of God, were had She gone, why was I going through this? I felt very agitated and emotions were coming up that were not comfortable to say the least. How was I going to get through this? I stayed on that journey for several weeks after it. It was a hard one.

I pondered whether I should go on the third retreat. I felt that God was calling me to do so. Once again I felt reunited with God. I was blessed with the gift of going deep within to the place where the Divine resides and feel the healing nurture and longing to be united with Her. What wondrous love God has for us to sojourn with us on our journeys! I would wonder many times through the day to an old rustic orchard where I would sit and be with God. Occasionally I would be accompanied by some deer. It was there that God gave me a most wonderful gift, a poem which draws this journey to a close.

As I wander along a wooded path,
birds chirp with delight
at the dawn of a new day.

Rays of sunshine streaming
between the tall trees,
Who are shedding their leaves
with their life giving sap trickling into the ground.

Retreating, Resting, Restoring,
For the time will come
Once again to Regenerate life.

Stepping from the wooded path
into a small clearing,
A once cherished orchard stands,
A huddle of knurly, moss covered apple trees
with a soft green grass blanket
surrounding their feet.

What a Holy Place!
Rustic. Welcoming. Calling out.
Come, come in and sit awhile.
I come and stand in awe,
beginning to chant.

"Stay with me,
Remain here with me,
Watch and pray,
Watch and pray"

Time stands still,
I am in a Holy Place with the Most Holy One,
Along side me,
Surrounding me,
Holding me up.

I stretch out my being to receive the blessing,
Receive the rays of warmth and love on my cheek.

The chant gently flows out of me,
A trickle of God's sap
Runs down my cheek.
Oh! The gentleness,
I have been kissed by the Beloved.

I lower my eyes to the orchard,
There looking at me,
Two gentle brown eyes,
Casting their gaze upon me.

"You are beloved,
I will always stay with you."

Karen Duddy


May 9, 2008

The following reflection was written by Stephanie Moul and published on her blog, "Just Etchings"( http://www.justetchings.blogspot.com/ after attending the COGV centering prayer silent retreat held in April, 2008 at Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island. We are very grateful to have her permission to reprint the article on our website.

Waiting In The Hard Places

With many changes in life in the past year, good changes, changes that challenge, there has not been as much space to sit in silence. Silence – that Holy Presence that invites one to sit, to wait, to listen, to be, and to know God. Silence which holds the space where the Spirit waits with her tenderness and wisdom, without condemnation or judgement, offering room for that gentle voice that brings Truth.

When the opportunity came for a week long Silent Retreat I was eager to sign up. My expectation was of a week in silence and maybe some gathering with the group for a short time in the morning and perhaps some time in the evening after dinner. Arriving slightly late on Bowen Island, due to the ferry running behind schedule, it meant rushing into the first gathering and the first session of Centering Prayer. The only seat available was a hard wooden chair – only 3 people had hard chairs while 13 had soft comfortable seats.

Between the schedule for the week, which involved 4 centering prayer sessions each day, and this hard chair, it felt like I had come to the wrong place! Where was my time to be totally alone for most of the day and to sit curled up in a soft enveloping chair to wait in Silence for the Spirit to come and bring her words of wisdom? Why did it have to be in a hard chair that I learned more of Centering Prayer? This dining room style chair of beautiful honey wood, with arm rests and a curved back, spindles that dug into my spine if I slouched, that gave no room for change. The first few days the prayer time was a place where I felt as if I was suffocating, and panic swirled within me and there was nothing soft to retreat into where I sat. This was not the calm inviting space I had yearned for it to be –it was a hard place to be for even the first 20 minutes of Centering Prayer, let alone another three 20 minute times consecutively!

Over the week I came to realize that this hard chair was indeed where the Spirit would sit with me, encouraging me to stop, and to simply listen to the sounds of the moment, where my soul could be opened to Holy Presence by waiting through the panic. Soul care was the theme of this time and the questions I had held out before going were being answered. Walking alone the raw tears flowed as the reasons for my own inner anxiety were shown to me and I gave the Spirit permission to show me more. This chair would not allow me to sink into the comfort of habit, but instead invited me to embrace waiting in the hard places and staying present to hear the beautiful sounds that have a language without words – birds, the wind, the sound of breathing, people passing quietly. I began to find the softness of sacred space, of Holy Presence sitting in that hard place.

With only one day left in this beautiful week I looked out on the glorious sunny day. A gentle knock at my bedroom door brought the message that my husband had been taken to hospital. Breaking my silence I phoned and got the details and ran to catch the ferry that I could see coming into dock.

Over the next 2 weeks sitting and waiting was all I could do as my beloved, David, was rushed to our local hospital and then a few days later he was airlifted out to a huge hospital in Vancouver where experienced vascular surgeons and radiologists could deal with the large blood clots in his legs, abdomen and lungs. Waiting room chairs where my attention wandered and my thoughts had to constantly be pulled back from the worst case scenarios as |I waited with David’s daughter and son-in-law. How often I came back to that safe place with the word, my sacred word, from Centering Prayer that reminded me to stay present, to stay in that moment with Them in Holy Presence.

David is home now and moving slowly but unable to go up the stairs to our bedroom. Last night I lay on the floor on a makeshift bed of chair cushions, listening to him sleep on the sofa. Waiting in the hard places is not over, but today I have a soft chair to relax into and the hard places that come again will call me back to that hard chair, and the Word, the whisper to the Almighty when it is essential to stay very present. My soft chair makes me think of how now I can exhale, and breathe easier as I consider how to live and move in this one moment, this hour, this day, with the hard places and the soft places, and the sounds of Holy Presence that are ever constant.

Waiting in hard places is an invitation, an embrace, and without a doubt a place where Love and the Beloved provide the softness for the heart to wait.


contemplation, reflection, silent prayer

""Any practice moving towards contemplation … bonds the people who are doing it with everybody else who is doing a similar practice, and indeed with everyone else in the human family. ... What is deepest in them, their oneness with the divine presence, resonates with what is deepest in us. Hence, their joys, their trials, and their openness to God are part of us."

Thomas Keating, The Better Part, page 70