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Sisterhood of St. John the Divine
November 2018
We have many amazing weekend retreats, quiet Saturdays and special opportunities coming up!  
Click on any of the poster images below to download the poster
to share with your church, family and friends!
On November 4, Daylight Saving Time will end, for another year, in the province of Ontario. We will turn our collective clocks back and return to Eastern Standard Time. This will result in more light in the morning, which is great for us early risers, but it does mean that the sun will also set earlier, on November 4 at 5:04 pm. That evening, during Evening Prayer, as we sing ‘Now as we come to the setting of the sun,” the words will be literally true. We have this experience every year. We know that eventually the hours of daylight will increase but, for now, people seem somehow unsettled by the early dark.
A few weeks ago I viewed a broadcast of a talk on Crisis Contemplation by Dr. Barbara A. Holmes given at Conspire 2018. She was speaking on how the suffering of kidnapped Africans transformed them into a kind of contemplative community. Dr. Holmes spoke of how white Christianity has often made a connection between darkness and sin, and how this connection contributed, and still contributes, to racism against people of colour.

She asked us to imagine a little black girl who hears blackness equated with sin, who hears how God hates sin, who hears that light is necessary to banish dark and then to imagine how that little girl might feel about her own skin colour and about her own self. I began to pay attention to just how often we use the motifs of light and darkness in our ‘God talk’. We acknowledge that God has called us out of darkness into light; we ask that God will " keep us in the light of your presence" ; we refer to Jesus as “ a light to the world in its darkness .”
This awareness led to some re-thinking of darkness. As a society we are very fast to banish darkness with light, to encourage people to smile instead of crying, to rush through the dark patch and come out the other side with the lesson learned. For all that, we know darkness is necessary. We need darkness to sleep properly. We are slowly beginning to understand how the glow from our smartphones and tablets messes with our circadian rhythms. We have begun to understand the cost, not just to ourselves, but also to many living creatures of the light pollution we create everywhere we go. Amnesty International considers 24 hour a day light to be torture to the imprisoned. We do know that we couldn’t exist without a balance of light and dark.
An intellectual appreciation of the benefits of darkness doesn’t go deep enough though. What do we feel about darkness? What do we do when we experience a situation of darkness? We all like to move on, to keep going on the journey, to turn the page, to get over it. But what happens when the darkness doesn’t give way to light? What happens when the darkness just deepens? What happens when the sick child doesn’t get better, the dream job isn’t ours, the relationship ends? What if God has something to teach us in the darkness?
I think this is where the spiritual practice of detachment is valuable. Detachment is not disengagement or apathy or world-weariness; it is a way of living out a paradox at the heart of our Christian faith. We believe that we are to be fully alive to God, to our sisters and brothers, to all the wonder and beauty and terror of God’s creation but, at the same time, there is so much we need to die to. We need to die to ourselves, to our wants, our desires, to the voice inside our heads and hearts which is always clamouring, "me, me, me." It’s hard to move away from the default position of seeing the world as made up of binary opposites; good/bad, black/white, light/dark but what if the reality lies somewhere in between? What if our growth as people of faith can best occur when we hold both light and dark lightly in our hands?
~~ Sister Wendy Grace Greyling, Guest House Team

ALL three options for the John Philip Newell weekend Nov. 2-4 are now full: overnight retreat, commuters for the retreat, and the Friday night lectures.
Compassionate Chair Yoga
Alternate Tuesdays
  • November 6 and 20
  • December 4 and 18

Join us in a practice of compassion for your body, mind and spirit. Wear loose comfortable clothing suitable for the Yoga practice.

10:30 am to 1:15 pm - 1 hour of Yoga practice followed by service of Holy Eucharist at noon and dinner in the refectory.

Recommended donation for each session: $38 ($20 for Yoga practice, and $18 for dinner: the portion for the Yoga practice will go as an unreceipted donation to the Sisterhood.) Payable by personal cheque or cash only.
Led by Barb Rosen , a certified Kripalu (Compassionate) Yoga Teacher
Advent Quiet Saturday
The Vulnerability of God

Saturday, December 1
Registrations must be RECEIVED November 24.

Have you ever wondered why, to save us from ourselves, our almighty God would choose to become a helpless infant, dependent in every way?

In the course of this Advent Quiet Day we will explore how this remarkable vulnerability is revealed in the Incarnation and how we, as human beings on a spiritual journey, are called to live into this vulnerability in order to come closer to God and to deepen our relationships with each other.

Led by Sr. Susanne Prue , SSJD.
Click here for more details.
Christmas Retreat
Behold: Images of the Nativity

Sunday - Wednesday
December 23- 26
Registrations must be RECEIVED December 16.

In Lectio Divina we pause from our busy lives and to listen “with the ear of our hearts” to the words of scripture. In Visio Divina we are invited to gaze “with the eye of our hearts” at the truth of God’s word in visual form.

Sr. Constance Joanna will draw on her love of scripture and art in leading participants to reflect anew on the Christmas story both in words and in visual images of the Nativity.

Share with the Sisters in the festive liturgies, meals, and celebrations of Christmas.

Led by Sr. Constance Joanna Gefvert, SSJD."
Click here for more details.
New Year's Retreat
Ring out the Old, Bring in the New

December 31 - January 1
Registrations must be RECEIVED December 24.

Sisters of SSJD will lead participants in celebrating all that was good in 2018, letting go of what was not so good, and looking forward to the creative possibilities of 2019. There will be time for personal reflection and group discussion.

Consider spending 28 hours at the Convent, celebrating the New Year in an environment of peace and quiet fellowship. Enjoy a candlelight labyrinth walk (weather permitting), festive food, and a new creative way of beginning your year.
Click here for more details.
Quiet Saturday
The Wisdom of Teresa of Avila: Responding to the Summons of the Second Half of Life

Saturday January 26

Registration must be RECEIVED by January 19

Too few people know that there is a further journey following the first half of life. As we age and consider retirement, or go through transitions in our work, in our families, in our community, in our health, we want to reach out for guidance and wisdom.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1585), a Spanish Carmelite, wrote at the age of 62 years her classic Interior Castle. This brilliant text is a summary of her experience of God – a map of a spiritual journey – about her relationship with God inclusive of the blessings and distractions encountered in the second half of life.

We will reflect on and explore how the seven dwelling places of the Interior Castle can guide us in understanding and navigating our spiritual journey.

Led by Maureen McDonnell, D.Min. , who currently leads a program in Spirituality and Aging in a Toronto parish.

Click here for more details.
Weekend Retreat
Praying with Evelyn Underhill

February 8 - 10

Registration must be RECEIVED by February 1

In this pre-Lenten retreat, we will be exploring three classic qualities of the spiritual life that Evelyn Underhill particularly valued: Adoration, Communion, and Cooperation.

We will examine these aspects of prayer as reflected in her writings, as evidenced in our own lives, and also in the light of three Italian masterpieces (Masacchio’s Trinity, Fra Angelico’s Crucifixion, and the San Damiano crucifix that “spoke” to St. Francis).

Led by Deborah Smith Douglas , an American Episcopalian and a Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate. She has degrees in literature and law, and extensive training and experience as a spiritual director and retreat leader.

Click here for more details.
Lenten Quiet Day: Life, Death and Resurrection
Saturday, March 9, 2019 (Bishop Riscylia Shaw)  see here »

Silent Directed Retreat
Tuesday-Thursday, March 12-14, 2019 see here »  

Celtic Knots: Draw Surprising Insights from Playful Doodles
Saturday and/or Sunday, March 16 & 17, 2019 (Brian Dench) see here »

In the Footsteps of Jesus
Wednesday-Sunday, April 17-21, 2019 (Canon. Dr. Richard LeSueur)  see here »  

Click here   to see all scheduled upcoming opportunities!