Today I begin a different online journaling workshop. Mepkin Abbey wanted to develop a program for those of us far away from the Abbey, so they have created something they're calling Zip Code Contemplatives. Those of us who are geographically close are gathering online to do some journaling and have some lectio divina. People who are truly in the same zip code might decide to meet in person, but since my group contains people from various places in the lower part of the Florida peninsula, we're not likely to do that.
We are working our way through a group of CDs by the Marist brother Don Bisson--the title is Individuation: Beyond "Happy and Normal." This morning, I listened to the first 3 tracks. Tonight at 7, we will gather in an online space (a Zoom meeting). We will do some talking and do some individual journaling. It should be interesting.
I'm doing some sketching along with writing. It helped me stay focused on the CD tracks. As I'm doing more to stay on task and stay focused, I am realizing how easy it is for my attention to wander.
Of course, the danger with sketching is that I can be so focused on the sketching that I forget to listen.
This morning's tracks reminded us again and again that society gives us all sorts of false messages. We go to therapy to get some insight, and we often go again and again, getting the same insights. But very few of us can live with the insights--we're in a quick fix culture after all. Plus it's often a tough message/insight to live with--the idea that the ego isn't in control of its own destiny.
One of the final messages spoke to me: the idea that we have a beautiful garden, where we continually plant weeds that choke the garden. The weeds are the false dreams and illusions that our larger culture gives us. The true self is the beautiful garden.
It will be interesting to see if my fellow contemplatives notice different things. I'll return to make some follow up observations.
I'm interested in this process for many reasons, chief among them is that I think that more and more of us will be less and less able to get away for a full retreat. Can online retreats nourish us? And if so, will it be in similar or different ways?
I'm also interested, of course, because I have visions of being a retreat leader in the future--whether as a full-time job or a volunteer ministry. These kinds of things can nourish those of us in a congregation to be closer, even if we can't gather in person throughout the week.
And of course, I'm interested in what I can learn for my online teaching, particularly if I move into jobs where I have some creativity and control. Right now I don't--but in the future, I might.