November/ December 2012

Meditation Opportunites

Thursday evenings at 1st Presbyterian 

We will meet for meditation on all Thursdays in November (except Thanksgiving Day) and December (except Dec. 20 and Dec. 27) from 7:00 – 9:00 pm in the fellowship hall. Our format for the first hour is two 20-minute periods of sitting in silence with a 10 minute walking meditation in between.  For the second hour, we are practicing group contemplative listening.  We listen to a short reading from a contemplative author or poet, sit together for a period of silence, and share our reflections with the group.  This is a wonderful way to practice deep listening to each other.  All are welcome to join us at any time. 

Tuesday evenings at Hei’s house

Hei has opened his house to those who would like to join him for meditation from 6:00pm – 6:30pm on Tuesdays.  It is one half hour of sitting meditation.    Please call him at 899-4845 for directions and to let him know that you are coming so he can prepare a place for you.

November Retreat Day

          Saturday, November 17, 2012   8:30 am – 1:00 pm                    In the Fellowship Hall

                              Smile at Fear

This Saturday, in addition to our two hours of mediation, we will watch a portion of a Pema Chodron DVD titled “Smile at Fear”.  Pema is a Buddhist monk and gifted teacher who has much insight to help us in our meditation practice. In this video Pema explains that what she teaches is Bodhisattva training – work on the self so that we become spiritual warriors in order to serve others with courage, fearlessness, and love.  She emphasizes the importance of this work to help others, for the healing of the earth, and to relieve the suffering of others.

 A freewill offering will be available.

Upcoming Events

Ongoing                                 Hei’s Tai Chi class at Oldemeyer

Center (Tu/Thur at 10:30 am)

December 13                         Cookie Party after Thursday evening

Meditation   8:00 – 9:00 pm

December 14                        Taize at First Presbyterian

7:30 – 8:30 pm

Summary of October’s Retreat

In October we had an extended retreat with guest presenters Kenton Smith and Jim Peterson from Soul Work Studio.  The title of the retreat was “Reversals:  Healing Disruptions in the Spiritual Life”.  The rhythm of the retreat included presentations by Kent and Jim, participant sharing, and time for inner work and meditation.  Kent and Jim used four movements delineated by Alexander Shaia that correspond to the seasons of the year to help us see our experiences of difficult times as a potential for spiritual growth.

Autumn is the time of the summons into disorientation.  These are the sometimes sudden, sometimes planned painful and devastating experiences we have of loss that may involve illness or death, relationship issues, work issues, or loss of faith.  The experience plunges us into a time of loss of control and not knowing what to do.  St. John of the Cross says, “We journey on an unknown way to an unknown end”.  It all feels unfamiliar.  In this space our first response can be resistance, denial, or to give up.  Our second response is to consent and say “yes” to the summons.

This plunges us into the darkness of Winter, where we live into the disorientation.  St. John of the Cross calls this time “the dark night”.  It is a time when God feels absent.  We need to be patient and wait for the fruits of this season to teach us a deeper and truer view of reality and ourselves.

As we live in the chaos of the darkness, we begin to get hints of seeds of a new way of being sprouting within.  Once we begin to claim these graces, when the “new wineskins (Matthew 9:17)” begin to form, we enter into the movement of Spring.

What is given to us in the spiritual season of Spring is given for the community.  When the time is right, Summer begins as we bring the fruits of our disorienting experience back to the community in service.   We bring only what God gives.  It may take time to integrate this new way of being into our lives.  We must not rush the answers to the questions:  “How shall I relate to the community?” or “How shall I serve?”

Our retreat ended with a remembrance of the story of how Monterey Meditation Group came to meet at First Presbyterian Church.  It involved the Autumn season of being asked to leave El Estero Church, the unknowing time of Winter and wondering what would happen, the glimmer of hope as we interviewed churches and found a match, and now the Summer of sharing the fruits of meditation with our community.  We are grateful for the guidance of the Spirit and for the deepening of trust that we gained from this painful experience.

In closing,

You have turned my mourning into dancing;

You have taken off my sackcloth

And clothed me with joy

So that my soul may praise you and not be silent

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever 

                Psalm 30: 11 – 12 

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