Let us try what it is to be true to gravity,
to grace, to the given, faithful to our own voices,
to lines making the map of our furrowed tongue.
Turned toward the root of a single word, refusing
solemnity and slogans, let us honor what hides
and does not come easy to speech. The pebbles
we hold in our mouths help us to practice song,
and we sing to the sea. May the things of this world
be preserved to us, their beautiful secret
vocabularies. We are dreaming it over and new,
the language of our tribe, music we hear
we can only acknowledge. May the naming powers
be granted. Our words are feathers that fly
on our breath. Let them go in a holy direction.
—Jeanne Lohmann, Between Silence and Answer
This is my last week of sabbatical from teaching and it is a rich time of transition where I am gearing up for the fullness of fall. Autumn is my favorite season though, and so I feel exuberant inside at this journey toward all the awaits me. In September I will be traveling to Louisiana and Mississippi to lead workshops for spiritual directors in the arts and then on to Michigan here I will teach the Awakening the Creative Spirit 5-day intensive with Betsey Beckman. My heart feels full of anticipation at spending time with groups like these. It is such an extraordinary privilege for me to work with such hungry and questing souls.
Once back from those travels, I will have just a few days in between to re-group, and then will be attending a two-week yoga teacher training retreat through my yoga studio. I love this place
dearly because of their emphasis on making yoga accessible to everyone. As a non-profit they offer yoga to veterans, homeless, those who are dying, and those with addictions. I have practiced yoga for many years and have found the philosophy to be so deeply resonant with my monastic heart. The physical practice has been a grace as I continue to listen into this incredible vessel that carries me through my days. Being a monk in the world means always cultivating deeper ways to listen and honoring all of life, including our bodies as a holy text. I am not going on this retreat to become a “yoga teacher” per se, although I do want to bring the wonderful, contemplative practice of yin yoga to my retreat work. I am going because I want to deepen into this tradition and be challenged by it in the context of community. This is what monastic hospitality is all about, welcoming in the stranger at the door. The culture out of which yoga arises is in many ways a stranger to me. The philosophy is one that seems so deeply familiar, and yet because it comes from another place, can offer me a window into what I love most about my own Benedictine path.
Jeanne Lohman’s poem of “Invocation” above speaks to my heart in this moment between the grace of rest and the grace of meaningful work. They nourish one another. My prayer is that this time of sabbatical has renewed my spirit so that I can be fully present once again with this community of monks in the world. And my prayer is that I continue to follow the holy direction of
my deep longings. The holy direction that has brought me to this moment where I am in service to all of you. It feels amazing really. What is your own holy direction as we transition to a new life season?
I take these journeys while also beginning to teach two sections of Way of the Monk, Path of the Artist in its new 12-week version accompanied by my book The Artist’s Rule.
I am so delighted to be doubling the time I get to spend with these monks and artists, border-dwellers who long for a different way of being in the world. If you would like to join me for the winter session (January 9-April 1, 2012) you might want to drop me a note to be added to the early notice list as there are quite a few folks on there already.
Looking ahead to this fall, in addition to our fabulous monthly Soul Care supervision group here in Seattle (limited space left!) and our new 6-week online class to support soul care practitioners – Live it to Give it (starts October 3rd and also limited space left), the Abbey will also be offering a series of monthly Monk in the World phone calls, a 3-week online retreat on Honoring Saints and Ancestors (October 30-November 19), and another fabulous online retreat for Advent on Birthing the Holy: Becoming a Monk in the World (November 27-December 24) with special guest teachers Roy DeLeon, Mary Earle, Paula Huston, Dana Reynolds, and Jan Richardson. They are monks in the world, oblates, and authors and each will bring a luminous perspective on living contemplatively to the journey toward Christmas. Registration for the monthly calls and the Ancestors and Advent online retreats will open in late September.