The latest programs, events and offerings from Shalem Institute.
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Shared Spiritual Companionship

by Tilden Edwards

The medieval mystic Hafiz said, "Like a great starving beast, my body is quivering, fixed on the scent of Light." That's a radical thought for us to bring to spiritual direction, both as director and directee. That quivering in me is the strong, graced desire for communion -- communion with the enlightening, loving truth of God. Jesus says the Spirit will show us as much of that truth as we can bear. We can bear more of this truth when we bring to our prayer and direction a powerful desire for it, when we're not half-hearted but full-hearted as we sit energetically listening to one another, wanting and willing for the realization of our communion in God, and the way of life that communion reveals for us.

A Buddhist story bears this out in its own fresh way: a monk once asked his master for help with enlightenment. They were standing beside a lake. The master put the student's head under water and held it there until the student came up gasping for breath. The master said, "You must want enlightenment as much as you wanted that breath of air."

The hard reality is that our desire for enlightenment, our desire for realization of God's transforming presence, is a desire for we-don't-know-what. God is merciful to us in that way, because anything we could imagine would be less than what God has in mind for us. So we're left with wide open desire; and we have to trust the Spirit to respond in its own way and time, in ourselves, in our directees, and in the world. That open yearning for fuller life in God shows that we are not willing to settle for less than what we are made for and that the world is made for. That unrelenting desire placed in us is one of God's greatest gifts.

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Sept 18-21 Group Spiritual Direction Workshop
Sept 18 - Oct 30 Opening to the Spirit - online
Sept 24 - Oct 1 - Pilgrimage in the Pacific NW [FULL]
Oct 5-26 Contemplative Leadership Seminar
Oct 9-13 Shalem Society Gathering
Oct 30 - Dec 4 Living Word, Living Way - online
Nov 6 - Contemplative Voices Award honoring Constance Fitzgerald

Young Adult Life and Leadership Initiative - YALLI is for young adults (approximately ages 25-40) who seek a deeper spiritual foundation for their lives and work and who welcome the support of a like-minded community. Although the registration deadline has passed, we would be happy to talk with you if you are sensing a call to this program. Please contact Shalem as soon as possible (301-897-7334 or to see if it still might be possible for you to apply.
Click here to learn more.

Soul of Leadership Program - The Soul of Leadership recognizes that leaders today face particularly difficult challenges. The commitment to inspire others while also increasing productivity and balancing the needs of the organization can leave leaders feeling depleted. Long hours and countless demands often result in a deep need for renewal. There are programs in Boston, England and Tennessee. 
Click here to read more.

Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program - This program is designed to equip, encourage and support those called to lead spiritual groups and retreats. Its focus is on nurturing deeper communion with God, contemplative awareness of Gods presence, and an openness to letting God guide. The early bird application deadline is October 31. Click here to read more.

Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program - This program offers both academic resources and experiential support for the ministry of spiritual direction or holy listening. At the heart of this program is the radical conviction that spiritual companionship is a form of prayer and that contemplative listening comes from being grounded in ones relationship with God. The early bird application deadline is November 30. Click here to read more.

Going Deeper: Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership Program - Although our other Shalem programs connect with certain dimensions of congregational spiritual leadership and many clergy participate in them, none give the context of the local church as the explicit and shared focus as this program does. Going Deeper is for clergy of all denominations and geographic locations who serve on the staffs of local churches or whose ministry involves the local church. Click here to read more.

Do you desire support and enrichment for your prayer life?  
Do you wish to develop or deepen a consistent spiritual practice?

Join Carole Crumley as she illuminates the introductory core prayer practices found in Tilden Edwards’ Living in the Presence. Weekly material will focus on nurturing presence through body, breath & mind. Additional audio guided meditations from Tilden Edwards, Marlene Maier, and the late Gerald May. This offering is a part of our Online School of Contemplative Prayer Series. 

Dates: This six-week course runs September 18 to October 23, 2016.
Cost: $75. (Group discounts available!)

Register now!

Do you yearn to explore a way of leading that is more aligned with your heart?

Join other leaders in this online seminar as together we reflect on the invitation to contemplative leadership, a countercultural practice grounded in deep listening and compassion. Through content videos and audio, Leah Rampy will help explore compassion and power as dimensions of contemplative leadership and will offer a space for reflection, contemplative practice and sharing with other leaders.

Dates: Access material anytime between October 5 and October 26, 2016.
Cost: $150. (Group discounts available!)

Register now!

Group Spiritual Direction Workshop

Whether you are new to group spiritual direction, wish to explore it further, or are seeking support and guidance for forming a group, please consider joining us for this workshop.

Dates: Sunday, Sept 18 to Weds, Sept 21, 2016
Location: The Bellfry, Lexington, VA

Register - only a few spots left!

Contemplative Voices Award honoring Constance FitzGerald


Constance FitzGerald, OCD, is a contemplative theologian and a member of the Carmelite Community in Baltimore where she has served as prioress, formation director, archivist/historian and treasurer. She was a founder of the Association of Contemplative Sisters in the US and a founding member of the Carmelite Forum, a group of scholars dedicated to opening contemplative prayer and life to people through the contemporary interpretation of the Carmelite classics.

Connie has devoted her intellectual life to the explication and interpretation of the writings of the great Carmelite mystics, with a special predilection for Saint John of the Cross.

This is a special fundraising event to celebrate contemporary contemplative voices and to support the work of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.

Light refreshments will be served and guests will receive a complimentary copy of Sister Constance’s “Impasse and Dark Night.”

Date: Sunday, November 6, 2016, 4-6 PM
Location: Founders’ Hall, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville, MD
Cost: $60 suggested donation.

Sign up here

Gerald May Seminar with Mirabai Starr
The Passion of the Mystics: A Contemplative Journey

Mirabai Starr, MA, is an author, translator of the mystics, and a leading voice in the emerging inter-spiritual movement. She speaks and teaches nationally and internationally on the teachings of the mystics, contemplative practice and the transformational power of grief and loss.

She is known for building bridges not only between religious traditions but also between contemplative life and compassionate service, between cultivating an inner relationship with the Beloved and expressing that intimacy in community, between the transformational power of loss and longing for the sacred. Join us for this engaging weekend conference!

Friday, April 28, 2017, 7-9 PM
The Friday night lecture will draw on the works of the great Christian mystics and more.

Saturday, April 29, 2017, 10 AM-4 PM
In the Saturday workshop, we will read short passages from the works of the great Christian mystics and respond to writing prompts to access our unique voice and deepen our personal journey. Inter-spiritual chanting and simple body practices will support and balance our contemplative readings and writing exercises.

Register here

Margaret's Travels

Follow our Executive Director, Margaret Benefiel, as she hits various spots around the world!

Margaret's upcoming schedule:

Sept 16, 3-5:30, Pilgrim Place, Claremont, CA. (tea and punch and cookies served at beginning). RSVP here.

Sept 17, 9-11:30, Mission Hills United Church of Christ, San Diego, reception following. RSVP here.

Sept 18, 2-5, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, reception following. RSVP here.

Oct 2, 2-5, Dublin, Ireland

Oct 8, Northampton, MA

New Weekly Guided Prayer Sessions this fall

Shalem will offer weekly, guided meditations during October as a way of joining together in prayer for our world leaders and, in particular, for holding in prayer the US elections in November.
These half-hour prayer times, led by Patience Robbins, will be by conference call on Wednesdays at noon, EST.  We invite you to join in this opportunity for prayer together – a prayer of love, harmony and compassion surrounding the United States and the world.  The sessions will be recorded so that you can access them at other times during the week.
The dates are October 5, 12, 19, 26 and November 2, and the conference call information will be provided when you send us your email by clicking below.

Click here to receive information on how to join the calls.

Friends of Shalem

Contemplative Outreach MD/DC offers:
A one day Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop
Workshop will be followed by continuing sessions.
September 24, 2016.

Visit for more info.

Center for Spiritual Deepening, Alexandria VA, offers:
Mature Spirituality
September 28, 2016
Co-Creating the Cosmos
Every Thursday in October
The Spirituality of Parenting
October 26, 2016

Visit for more info.

Racial Awareness and Mindfulness Festival of the Arts, Awareness, and Justice
This mini-festival intends to help people of good will reflect on the remaining reality of racism in our society through the arts, while also providing practical approaches to addressing the reality of race and privilege and its systemic effects through experiential workshops.
October 15, 2016 

Visit the event page for more info.


Pilgrimage to the Pacific NW
On this pilgrimage, we will walk the Earth, exploring and honoring mountain, river & sea. Sept 24-Oct 1 2016.
Pilgrimage to Paris 
A contemplative pilgrimage to Paris allows us to slow down and savor the presence of the Holy. March 21-30 2017.
Learn more
Pilgrimage to Assisi
Come with us to the awe-inspiring town of Assisi where pilgrims have sought wisdom for centuries. May 10-20, 2017
Learn more
Share Shalem’s vital ministry of spiritual deepening—become a Shalem donor today!

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