By Bryan Berghoef
"Lectio divina is like reading poetry: We need to slow down, to savor what we read, and to allow the text to trigger memories and associations that reside below the threshold of awareness." -Michael Casey in Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina.

Michael Casey compares poetry to meditation in his book on sacred reading. We might not normally consider poetry as something sacred or spiritual, but I think he is on to something. Poetry, like meditation, can quiet us. Slow us down. Create a calming effect on our normally rushed way of being.

A good poem is, you might say, magical. No matter where we are, it transports us and opens a window through which we see and experience tastes, sounds, feelings and more. It opens us to what is around us, and what is within us.

In that sense, reading a poem, or even better - hearing a poem being read - is a spiritual practice.

The great spiritual practices encourage us to pay attention. A poem, at a different level from other types of writing, also invites us to pay attention. To be aware. To allow the flow of words to wash over us, the images to flicker on the screen of our mind, the senses evoked to become engaged. And yet, poetry can go even deeper than that.

Casey reminds us that poetry can "trigger memories and associations that reside below the threshold of awareness." It comes at us sideways instead of straight on. It catches us by surprise. It sneaks up on us from behind and suddenly we become aware of a presence, sense or idea that we hadn't seen coming. 

A few book recommendations for your summer reading.

Bryan Berghoef  
Mark Nepo has written a lovely collection of stories. Each story can be read on its own-in a way that invites you to pay attention to what is happening within the story, and what is happening within yourself as you read it. Every story is followed by journal questions, table questions, and a meditation exercise, making it a very useful text for a number of personal or group settings. Nepo's wise and winsome style permeates each tale.

Tilden Edwards
Joann, founder of the Christos Center for Spiritual Formation (and a Shalem grad), has written a spiritual autobiography that will likely lead the reader to find the understanding of their own spiritual-contemplative journey enlightened, challenged, and encouraged.

Ross, Maggie. Silence: A User's Guide
Maggie Ross is a long-experienced Anglican solitary living in Oxford. Her book will likely challenge, deepen, and broaden your understanding of silence in the quest to "let life play out before the eye of the heart." As Rowan Williams says in the Foreword, "(She is) one of the most independent and ruthlessly realistic religious writers of our time...drawing on enormous resources of close scholarly reading, consistently penetrating and demanding, yet opening a door of vital understanding."

Dana Greene
This is the first biography of the American poet, Robert Lax, friend of Merton, convert to Catholicism, lover of solitude, peripatetic pilgrim in the Greek Isles, and seeker of authentic human life. He wrote, "We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." 

Monica Maxon
As a physician and a long-term survivor of chronic illness, Remen offers a unique perspective on the power and mystery of life with this moving collection of stories. By sharing these stories, she is able to address spiritual issues in a down-to-earth and powerful way.

Ruth Taylor
Muckow, Lacy (author) and Porter, Angela (illustrator). Color Me Fearless: Nearly 100 Coloring Templates to Boost Strength and Courage
With themed chapters on Courage, Strength, Resilience, Confidence, Power, Adventure, and Freedom, this adult coloring book offers images to inspire and empower. Mandalas, animals, and symbols weave through each page. This offers a contemplative practice to brighten your prayer corner, with some colored pencils or sharpies.
Simply having a phone present on the table during a conversation will lessen the depth of conversation and connection. Turkle explores how we may maintain deep connections in relationships with the current state of technology present in our society.

Clair Ullmann
Father Richard Rohr offers a new way of understanding how our failings can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth. He explores the two halves of life to show that those who have fallen, failed or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." His premise is that we grow spiritually more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. This is a book one can read again and again and digest very slowly.
Some of these books have been available for a while; others are not yet out.

Ilia Delio
Evolution and the Eternal Feminine: Essays in Honor of Beatrice Bruteau. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2016.
Matthew Fox
Stations of the Cosmic Christ. Oakland, CA: Kion Yamaguchi Press, 2016. (Co-authored with Marc Andrus)
Mark Nepo
John Phillip Newell
The Rebirthing of God: Christianity's Struggle for New Beginnings. Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2014.
Parker J. Palmer
Richard Rohr
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2014.
Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2014.
What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self. NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2015.

A leadership program for young adults

Are you a young adult between the ages of 25 and 40 or do you know someone who is?
Shalem's Young Adult Life and Leadership Initiative is for those who are:
  • Desiring to deepen the spiritual foundation of their personal and professional life;
  • Seeking a mutually supportive spiritual community with other young adults;
  • Drawn to exploring the contemplative tradition, including prayer and meditation practices; and
  • Willing to learn within a broad ecumenical Christian framework that also welcomes the wisdom and practice of other faith traditions.
Shalem's Young Adult Life & Leadership Initiative program will begin in September 2016.

Application deadlines:
Early-bird: June 30; Final deadline: July 31, 2016

Program starts in September 2016
First Residency in October 2016

Experience a contemplative pilgrimage with Shalem  
sailboat & mist

Uniting with Earth's Rhythm: A Pilgrimage in the Pacific Northwest
Sept 24-Oct 1, 2016, led by Jamie Deering and Leah Rampy. Intention: Being one with Spirit's unfolding, we pause in community with all living things and listen into Earth's rhythm, uniting our hearts with all Creation, and opening to the invitation for what is ours to do.  More details here.

An innovative 18-month program for anyone in a leadership role
This program is for leaders in business, the public sector, charity/voluntary organizations, or faith-based groups who want to deepen their inner resources in order to lead with long-term effectiveness and integrity.

The 18-month program begins October 2016. Four residencies in Boston, MA. ( October 17 - 20, 2016; April 24 - 27, 2017; October 16 - 19, 2017; April 23 - 26, 2018)

Click for more information.
Residency dates for upcoming long-term program classes.

Shalem's long-term programs will be enrolling soon; here are the residency dates for the upcoming classes. All of these residencies will be held at Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Marriottsville, MD.
Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance
First Residency: July 25 to August 3, 2017
Second Residency: June 19-28, 2018
Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups & Retreats
First Residency: May 3-10, 2017
Second Residency: March 6-13, 2018
Going Deeper: Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership
First Residency: July 11-18, 2017
Second Residency: Aug 14-21, 2018
An easy way to give back to Shalem

If you shop at Amazon.com, consider signing up for AmazonSmile as a special way of making a gift to Shalem.

It's easy to do: just sign in to AmazonSmile and designate Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation as the charity of your choice. Then, whenenever you buy something, Amazon will donate a part of the purchase price to Shalem. So each time you shop, you'll be making a gift to Shalem!

A time of transition.

The Shalem offices will be moving in July, to another part of the building where we are now located. We're told that our address will remain the same, but we'll let you know if anything changes.
Even though we're only going a short distance, we'll still be sorting and packing and moving office equipment while trying to continue to do our usual work. We ask for your patience-and for your prayers-during this time of transition.