November 2019

Contemplative Times, Issue # 4
The Newsletter of Meditation Chapel

The Meditation Chapel Vision

Meditation Chapel nurtures unity and world peace through the sharing of divine stillness and sacred listening. We support groups of all faith traditions in offering and sharing the contemplative experience through the sacramental use of technology.

Letter from the Editor

Surrender. Consent. Intimacy with God. These are hallmarks of living in the awareness of Divine presence, and the focus for this issue of Contemplative Times.

Surrender is a pivotal step in the process of experiencing intimacy with God. It implies a ceasing of resistance. Letting go of futile attempts to navigate one’s own way in life, surrender allows one to flow like water itself and find the path of least resistance. We surrender fears, the illusion of control, storehouses of knowledge, and both cognitive and behavioral modes of doing. What begins at the moment of surrender is faith in the One who created us. Faith is constantly refreshed when surrender is practiced daily.

Consent acts as an opening to the Divine presence. It is an act of giving permission to God to live and breathe in our being, enabling us to be the vessels of love and compassion for which we are designed. Consent engenders trust that God intends goodwill to, through, and in us.

Intimacy with God is not something we achieve, but everything that we allow by surrendering and consenting to God’s presence within us. It is a holy encounter, as is each breath, every flowering moment of life.

As many begin preparations for the Advent season, I am reflecting on how the Christ is incarnate in all areas of my life, but particularly, how I can surrender and consent to a deeper incarnation of Christ in my heart. Integrating the light and truth of God’s presence through daily meditation is the most immediate and lasting practice with which I can encounter the Divine embodied within me.

I pray you find a way into the Mystery through your contemplation of this newsletter’s content: Michael Gump’s article on surrender, Jennifer Speight’s contribution on consent, and Bob Brown’s offering on intimacy with God. Additionally, Robert Lalor reflects on his experience of participating in Fr. Vincent’s weekly meditations. We also have some new groups about to begin, so give your attention to those announcements contained herein.

Wishing you all a bright season of hope, love, and intimacy with the Divine.

Laura Waters, Contemplative Times editor


Photo courtesy of Michael Gump

Refuge by Michael Gump

When I think about surrender in Buddhist terms, what comes to mind is the concept of Refuge. The first step to officially becoming a Buddhist is to formally take refuge in what is known as the Three Treasures, or the Triple Gem. These are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

To take refuge in the Buddha has a couple of meanings. The first is to take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha, the Indian prince who attained enlightenment in 541 BCE. One takes him as one’s teacher or guide. A deeper level is to take refuge in the awakened mind itself.

To take refuge in the Dharma is first to take refuge in the teachings on the Buddha as presented in three baskets of teachings. A deeper level is that one takes refuge in reality or the truth of things as they are.

To take refuge in the Sangha is first to take refuge in those fellow monastics and laity who are on the Buddhist path. The deeper meaning of Sangha is to take refuge in that which transcends the self.

So, to surrender in the Buddhist sense might mean to keep taking greater and greater reliance on these refuges, to keep going against the grain of one’s own defilements and delusions. As this gets deeper, language becomes tricky but there is a sense of a Dharma body that begins to manifest that one can relax deeper and deeper into.

These three refuges begin to reside within one so that one becomes one’s own refuge. This is a gradual process so that one starts with the external meanings of these Jewels and slowly, through patience and practice, the hidden meanings become realized until one reaches the unshakeable refuge of the pure heart.

With love and peace to all and may all beings be happy!

Welcome to Justin Coutts and the New Eden Ministry Meditation group!

Join Justin and others on Mondays at 8:30pm Eastern Time US

in the Peace Chapel.


SAY YES by Jennifer Darby Speight

Say, “yes.”

There was a moment.
A single moment in a single place—
one place with unique latitude and longitude.
There was a moment in a single day—
a day when it was hot or cold and clear or cloudy, when it was light and then it was dark.
There was a single conversation between two persons.

There was a moment.
A single moment in which All that had happened before
all that had happened before —came into exquisite focus.
There was a moment in a single day—
In which the purpose of matter and time sluiced down the throat of a funnel and narrowed into a single moment.
There was a single moment that paid for the cumulative minutes already passed—and for all that will come.

There was a moment.
A single moment in which two substances truly, finally, touched—
when the repelling field of alienation was breached.
There was a moment in a single day—
when the essential division that runs through every human heart was bridged.
There was a single moment when a woman, when a girl—said Yes.

There was a moment.
A single moment in a single heart—
a single Yes.
There was a moment in a single day—
when incomprehensible Love allowed an uncomprehending heart and mind and body to be moved by and also to respond with Yes.
There was a single moment when Yes became the renewal of all that is and was and is to come.

There was a moment of Yes so that we each also may say Yes—
a hundred, a thousand, a million opportunities to say, Yes.

A billion moments moved by a single yes that allows Grace to flow down into time and matter—into and through us.

Say, “yes.”
In every moment.



This 30 minute meditation is designed for those newer to silent contemplation or those who want to specifically focus on preparing for the birth of Jesus by reflecting on the readings of Advent.

Weekdays beginning 3 December and ending on 24 December, 7:25am-7:55am Eastern Time US in the John Main Chapel

Facilitators: Laura Truax, Amy Carlozo, and Brent Bailey



By the grace of God, with the most able assistance of our dear sister, Isabel Castellanos, Fr Vincent Pizzuto was brought into my awareness. Isabel shared that Fr Vincent’s book, Contemplating Christ, was one of the last books read by our beloved Fr Thomas Keating shortly before his transition. Isabel recalls this conversation with Fr Thomas: “’It is wonderful how he [Fr Vincent] brings everything together.”

Fr Thomas could not have recommended Fr Vincent’s book more highly, suggesting that all contemplatives should read this gift. Fr Thomas made copious notes in his copy of the book, which is now the prized possession of Fr Vincent, who exchanged several copies of Contemplating Christ, for this one annotated copy.

Confident in the fact that if it was good enough for Fr Thomas it had to be good enough for me, I acquired a copy of Contemplating Christ. The blessing that I have received and am receiving from this gift, are too numerable to articulate. I will share the latest gift: Fr Vincent uses the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to describe life and, in particular, our spiritual pilgrimage. Often, we have to look at the same piece of the jigsaw puzzle several times before we can see where it fits. Perhaps we need to position some surrounding pieces in order to grasp the context in which this new piece fits. This is guiding me to an awareness of the value of patience and perseverance, as I progress on my pilgrimage. I am becoming less willing to throw away puzzling pieces (people, events, etc.), preferring now to hold the pieces, lovingly and patiently, in my heart until my wisdom is sufficient to see the correct place where they fit.

Fr. Vincent Pizzuto with retreatants preparing to meditate on Courtesy of Richard Page

Fr Vincent’s generosity is limitless. In spite of being a full-time professor at the University of San Francisco, a full-time pastor of St Columba Inverness, Fr Vincent is generously leading a weekly group for our community of love. He joins us every Saturday at 7:00am US Pacific Daylight Time (10:00am Eastern Time US). Thanks to Roger Sessions, all the talks have been recorded and may be enjoyed at

Come! You will be so pleased that you did.


If you are looking to deepen your contemplative practice, one way is to participate in a retreat. You can view the Contemplative Outreach listing of upcoming retreats by clicking on this link:  Contemplative Outreach Events



Thursdays at 7:00pm Eastern Time US & Ca

(beginning 14 November)

John Main Chapel

Facilitated by Clara Gagnon


Online Awakening Classes
Awakening to Your Thoughts & Emotions

Register NOW

Dates: January 21, 2020 – March 24, 2020
Day/Time: Tuesdays from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm (CST)
Day/Time: Tuesdays from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (CST)
Where: The Mindfulness Classroom of
Maximum Enrollment/Class: 10 participants for each class

Courtesy of Unsplash

Who: Are you plagued by runaway thoughts and emotions?  Does your ego get in the way of living in the divine?  Do you want to strengthen your meditation practice while learning practical skills to discern what comes from ego and what comes from God?  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, Awakening to Thoughts & Emotions will benefit you.

Goals: This experiential 10-week class will strengthen your meditation practice and reinforce your self-awareness to non-judgmentally manage the thoughts and emotions that keep you trapped in egoic dualism and separate you from God’s love.

What to Expect in Class: The 10 week class combines meditation with elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  Each class includes Lectio, discussion and cognitive concepts. There are no PowerPoints or canned material. Check out the working syllabus.

Text:  Between classes, participants read and pray Lectio Divina on self-selected reflections from The Dance of Life: Weaving Sorrows and Blessings into One Joyful Step by Henri Nouwen and edited by Michael Ford.

Leader:  Sandra Miller, MSW, LCSW, has practiced meditation since 1981, including insight meditation, Lectio Divina and centering prayer. As a clinical therapist. she has taught meditation and mindfulness to individuals since 2012.  She started leading Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy groups for people with clinical depression and anxiety in 2016, guiding some 75 clients more than 270 hours.

Sandra retired from private practice in St Louis, Missouri to focus on her passion, adapting Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy to help Christians live more fully in the mind of Christ. She piloted the Awakening class during Lent 2019 and has now led six groups at local churches and online. Learn more about how Sandra integrates meditation and tools of cognitive therapy through her blogs.

What Participants Say About The Class: Jeanne K. writes I would recommend the class to anyone seeking a God centered life. You helped each of us to find God in ourselves.

Donna O. says I signed up for the class …  as a Lenten exercise. So much more has been given me…joy and serenity by simply resting in His presence. Nouwen and the class have reminded me that God wants me to accept these spiritual gifts. Each week has brought new revelations, tears, laughter and peace. 

Kathy T. writes I can’t begin to list all the ways I have grown because of this class. Doing Lectio with Nouwen’s reflections helped me engage with spiritual and Christian principles and concepts more deeply than ever before. This is a BIG deal because I’ve spent most of my life running AWAY from the Christian Church. I love that you created a safe space for all of us to share so vulnerably. 

Wes M. writes, This class has helped me to practice prayer not as a Christian duty and empty ritual of faith, but rather as a life-affirming relationship with a loving God whose presence and healing are always available to me. Read more of what participants are saying about the class.

Register Now:  Registration is first come, first served.  Be sure to indicate whether you want the 12:30 – 2:30 pm or the 5:00 – 7:00 pm Central Standard Time (CST) class. The first ten registrants for each class will be confirmed. Others will be put on a wait list. All registrants will be notified of your registration status within 72 hours.

Step 1:  Register as a Meditation Chapel user (if you haven’t already)
Step 2:  Complete and submit this brief registration form
Step 3:  Watch for a Confirmation or Wait List email from Christians Meditate.

Photo by Janice Andrews

Intimacy with God

Is better than

Filling your lungs with air at the top of a mountain

Enough money for retirement

A grandmother’s hug

Being picked by your friend to be on the team

Reading your teacher’s “well done” on your English essay

The orgasm that leaves you floating three feet above the bed

Selecting the new employee from a group of applicants

Telling your kids, “We’re going to church in twenty minutes.”


Being aware that some of your emotional hang-ups are gone

Being mindful that it is God who took away the hang-ups

Not taking any of the credit for the new you

Living the Welcoming Prayer more than just once in a while.

by Bob Brown



Art by Janice Andrews

As a prelude to Advent, this newsletter closes with one of Solomon’s Odes.

ODE 12.

He hath filled me with words of truth; that I may speak the same;
And like the flow of waters flows truth from my mouth, and my lips show forth His fruit.
And He has caused His knowledge to abound in me, because the mouth of the Lord is the true Word, and the door of His light;
And the Most High hath given it to His words, which are the interpreters of His own beauty, and the repeaters of His praise, and the confessors of His counsel, and the heralds of His thought, and the chasteners of His servants.
For the swiftness of the Word is inexpressible, and like its expression is its swiftness and force;
And its course knows no limit. Never doth it fail, but it stands sure, and it knows not descent nor the way of it.
For as its work is, so is its end: for it is light and the dawning of thought;
And by it the worlds talk one to the other; and in the Word there were those that were silent;
And from it came love and concord; and they spake one to the other whatever was theirs; and they were penetrated by the Word;
And they knew Him who made them, because they were in concord; for the mouth of the Most High spake to them; and His explanation ran by means of it:
For the dwelling-place of the Word is man: and its truth is love.
Blessed are they who by means thereof have understood everything, and have known the Lord in His truth. Hallelujah.


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