Reflections on the Healing our World through Contemplative Practice Conference – by Julie Elliot

We were a group of 40 people who came from each end of the country – from Bowen Island on the west coast to Cape Breton in the east and we gathered together for 3 days as a community of seekers interested in the contemplative life. What is contemplation? How do we live it? How does it heal us and our world? These are some of the questions we grappled with over an intense time of learning, sharing, listening and discussing ideas. I realize I can’t possibly describe everything that happened and so I’ll be thanking the 6 teachers and presenters in two blog posts. In alphabetical order, I’ll share a recollection/learning from each of the presenters starting today with Adel Compton, Carol Ann Gotch and Dale Bially. Next week I’ll thank and highlight the teachings from Dawn Kilarski, Judith Burch, Kurt Schwarz and Shelly Manley-Tannis.

~ Thank you Adel Compton for sharing your life story in a way that opened all of us to our own stories and the wisdom of knowing them. Your vulnerability and honesty was inspiring. Your invitation to walk outside with a partner to share a “drop of our story” was a highlight of the conference for me. We learned that each stage of life holds teaching for us and it’s never done and it’s never easy! You showed us what it is to be a life long student open to giving and receiving Universal Love through all life’s stages.

~ Thank you Carol Ann Gotch for your teachings on contemplation as a way to know myself so that I can go into unknowing. You spoke eloquently all weekend and it would take many pages to reflect back your wisdom and so I offer one highlighted note from my journal: To read contemplatively you ask, “what is stirring in me in this moment?” Read and pause. Stop. Let the words settle. It’s not discursive. Remember that contemplation is about union with God and one another and know that committing to the contemplative life means you’re going to change.

IMG_7992 2~ Many of us were taken aback to see the knives that Dale Bially had beautifully arranged on the worship table in the center of the room. Candles, flowers, stones, apples and knives? All was revealed when Dale invited us to use a knife to peel an apple in a unique guided meditation. We peeled the apple and considered it as a symbol for our own human journey – eventually cutting through the layers of skin and fruit to find the seeds at its core. I have added my apple seeds (symbolic of my precious center, my soul) to my prayer table at home and the power of metaphor and symbol continues to resonate for me. Thank you Dale, for also handling the administrative duties so capably. With warmth and calm, you looked after all our needs and we were truly grateful.

More next week about my reflections on presenters Dawn Kilarski, Judith Burch, Kurt Schwarz and Shelly Manley-Tannis.