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Contemplative Living with James Finley, Ph.D
The Contemplative Way Newsletter June 2015
Greetings Everyone,
Greetings Everyone,

It has been so long since I sent out a newsletter I think I should begin by saying that the primary purpose of these newsletters is to provide encouragement and guidance in the gentle art of contemplative living. Then, secondarily, these newsletters are a way for me to tell you about some of my upcoming projects. In this newsletter this includes information about a contemplative retreat I will be leading at the Findhorn Foundation, Scotland at end of June that will be streamed live on the Internet.

In this newsletter I will share some insights into the role spiritual reading plays in our desire to live a contemplative way of life. This is the five-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila. This prompts me to use the following passage found in Teresa's writings to demonstrate the points I will be making about spiritual reading:

Let nothing disturb thee.
Let nothing frighten thee.
All things are passing.
God alone remains.
Patience obtains all things.

If we read this passage in a hurried or otherwise distracted manner, we will pass right over the peace of God that Teresa is inviting us to experience. But if we read the passage in the careful, prayerful manner in which Teresa wrote it, the passage can become for us a way to renew and deepen our experience of God's presence in our lives.

Spiritual reading helps us by very fact that we cannot take in what we are reading without slowing down to become attentive to the depth and beauty that resonates in the words we are reading. The first lesson spiritual reading offers comes in the form of a particularly intimate kind of self-knowledge that begins to occur as we become aware that we have scarcely begun to appreciate or take in the passage we have just read. As we read the passage again in a more careful and attentive manner we can begin to realize that we are being given an opportunity to correct our tendency to skim over the surface of the depths and beauty that resonates in the words we are reading.

Catching ourselves in the act of skimming over the surface of the depths that resonate in Teresa's words can help us to become aware of our tendency to skim over the surface of each passing moment of our life. This tendency to skim over the surface of our own life is all the more regrettable when we pause to consider that the union with God we seek is hidden in the depths of our lives which we fail to see in the momentum of the day's demands.

Spiritual reading becomes a way to find God as we learn to hear God speaking to us in the words we are reading. Learning to read in this way can help us to learn to live in this way as we learn to be attentive enough to hear God speaking to us in each passing moment of our life. In the lifelong process of learning to live in this attentive manner the peace of God slowly grows and deepens within us.

The peace of God that Teresa and all the mystics are inviting us to experience does not consist of being magically protected from the disturbing and frightening things that can, and sometimes do, happen to us as human beings. Nor does the peace of God consist of no longer being disturbed and frightened when disturbing and frightening things occur. Rather, leaning to live in the peace of God means that fear and other disturbing feelings no longer have tyranny over our minds and hearts. It means that when death comes we know and trust that we will be free from the tyranny of death in the midst of death.

Of course we need to be patient with ourselves as we sincerely seek to read and to live in the attentive and receptive manner that we have been touching on here. But even the slow pace at which we are able to be transformed and awakened, is itself a source of wisdom that we can read about as we ponder the trustworthy guidance that offered to us in scripture and the teachings of the mystics down through the ages. For we are invited to realize that the lifelong process of learning to be patient with ourselves and others incarnates God's infinite patience with us.

The expansive and far reaching sensitivities, such as we are touching on here, allows us to come full circle, returning once again to the passage in Saint Teresa's writings with which we began our reflections. For it is in our lived experience of what Teresa is writing about that we are able to experience that inner yes, that inner resonance with what she is saying. And reading Teresa's writings in a sincere and attentive manner sets in motion our renewed and deepened experience of and response to the peace of God she invites us to experience.

And now for a bit of news about what is going on with me these days. I just had my seventy-first birthday. My wife, Maureen, and I spent the day together counting our blessings. My time and energy has been taken up by two projects that have blessed my life in a major way. There is first the book I am writing for Sounds True that explores the spirituality of healing trauma and all forms of suffering. I would hope to have that book finished in about a year from now. But based on how long it takes me to write one of these newsletters, I am leaving my ability to finish this book up to God.

The second endeavor that is enriching my life these days is being a core faculty member of the Living School along with my friends Cynthia Bourgeault and the school's founder, Richard Rohr. The opportunity to work with students from all over the world who are committing themselves to an in-depth experiential exploration of the Christian mystical traditions as source of transformation and service to the world is very inspiring to me.

The retreat that I will be leading at Findhorn, Scotland will be streamed live on the Internet on the 27th and 28th of June. It can also be downloaded and viewed at a later time. The retreat explores how learning to gaze deeply into the little things of daily life can help us come to a profound experience of God's presence in our lives. A full description of the retreat and how to register and pay to watch it over the Internet can be found at Findhorn Retreat Registration. There is a charge of approximately $92.00 USD. It is same whether you watch the retreat live or download to view later. The link to attend the retreat in person is: Litle things That Fill the Whole World.

Peace and blessings to all of you,
James Finley

You can find a continuously updated schedule at my website

Join Dr. Finley for a
contemplative retreat
Jim Finley
Retreat Via Internet
Little Things the Fill the Whole World
June 27-28, Findhorn
Findhorn Registration
2015 Retreat Schedule
Little Things that Fill the Whole World
(an evening presentation)
June 16
London, England

The Spirituality of Healing Trauma and All Forms of Suffering
June 17
London, England
The Interior Castle of St. Teresa of Avila
(an evening presentation)
June 18
Twickenham, England
Turning to Thomas Merton as our Guide
June 19-20
Norwich, England
Turning to Thomas Merton as our Guide in Contemplative Living
(an evening presentation)
June 22
Dublin, Ireland
Living a Contemplative Way of Life in the Midst of the World
June 23
Dublin, Ireland
Little Things that Fill the Whole World
June 27-28
Forres, Scotland
The Teachings of Thomas Merton
July 11
Santa Monica, CA 90403 USA

Transforming Trauma: Exploring Spiritual Dimensions of Healing
(Campfire Talks)
October 8-11
Lakeside, MT 59922 USA

Exploring the Foundations of Contemplative Living
October 23-25
Burlingame, CA 94010 USA

Turning to Thomas Merton as our Guide in Contemplative Living
(an evening presentation)
October 29
Villa Maria, PA 16155 USA
Thomas Merton: Trustworthy Guide on the Path to God
October 29-Novenber 1
Villa Maria, PA 16155 USA

Exploring the Foundations of Contemplative Living
November 13-15
Boca Raton, FL 33484 USA
The Interior Castle of St.Teresa of Avila
December 11-13
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275 USA
For more details please see
Retreat Schedule
To host a retreat

please contact Dr. Finley
"What I got from Merton most of all
was this:
the grace of God utterly and wholly permeates our lives, just as they are in the present moment.
All our failures and weaknesses are absolutely irrelevant in the face of such all-pervading grace."

James Finley
* * *
Books by James Finley
Merton's Palace of Nowhere:
25th Anniversary Edition

For twenty five years Merton's Palace of Nowhere has been the standard for exploring, reflecting on, and understanding this rich vein of Merton's thought. Dog-eared, tattered, underlined copies are found on the bookshelves of spiritual searchers everywhere. Now this Silver Anniversary edition brings this classic to a whole new generation.
For more information please see:

Ave Maria Press
* * *
Contemplative Heart
The Contemplative Heart
The Contemplative Heart, enables readers to realize that wherever we live, whatever we do, the richest possibilities of a contemplative life are within our reach-that they are in fact what we have been searching for all along.
For more information please see:

Ave Maria Press
* * *
Contemplative Heart
Christian Meditation
A former monk and student of Thomas Merton, Finley teaches readers to expand (or begin) their meditation practices in concert with their faith and guides them to discover that divine moments of awakened consciousness can lead to a deeper connection with Christ. He explains how meditation can enrich our daily lives by connecting us not only with the present moment, but also with the eternal now that is beyond time.
For more information please see:

Harper Collins Press
* * *
Copyright © 2015 Dr. James Finley