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Sisterhood of St. John the Divine
December 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!
I have always loved Christmas and Christmas music, and once I became an adult, it became my habit to start listening to Christmas music and to otherwise start enjoying the Christmas season in November.  

I come from a non-liturgical background so when I first started attending an Anglican church, the season of Advent came like a bucket of cold water. I still remember my first Advent carol service – they didn’t sing anything I knew!  My early experience of Advent was of something that was designed to frustrate my enjoyment of Christmas. Fortunately my understanding of Advent has undergone a change in the intervening years.

We have just begun the liturgical season of Advent. This is the season of the church year when we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ child and also prepare for the eventual return of the Christ. We stand and look back. We stand and look forward. We exist in this specific time and space. Somehow we hold all three realities at once. We remember Jesus coming. We look ahead to Jesus coming again at the end of time but - we live now. 

Christine Valters Paintner, in Desert Fathers and Mothers writes, " three is a number that helps us break through dualities. We tend to view life in either/or, us/them, or black/white dichotomies. When a third possibility enters, we are invited to hold the complexity and mystery of life and realize that it is so much vaster than any dichotomous situation.”

We don’t live in either the past or the future but both live in us. It’s easy to be focused on the past or the future, usually by worrying about them both. What did I say that for? What am I going to do? One way to escape the grip of both past and future is to be mindful of the present moment.

One truth I’ve been realizing lately is that God is always coming to us, always here, always present, always with us. God comes, and at the same time is always present, in the midst of all the joy, the sorrow, the mess and chaos of life.

In Mary Oliver’s poem, Making the House Ready for the Lord she talks about how, despite her best efforts “ nothing is as shining as it should be for you.” She itemizes all of the ways in which, and reasons why, she has failed to be ready.

The poem ends with her realizing that, in living her daily life, she has already welcomed the Lord, “ And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am speaking to you whenever I say, as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in.”

This Advent season, in the familiar words of a much loved blessing, I wish for you three things - “ to be steadfast in faith, joyful in hope and untiring all the days of your life”.

  ~~ Sister Wendy Grace Greyling, Guest House Team
Compassionate Chair Yoga
Tuesday, December 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
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!