Dear ones, first of all, forgive me for being so silent on this blog. My household has been a war zone (fighting the flu) — first my wife was sick; then my daughter, which is always frightening because of her health issues, but by the grace of God she had a very mild case of it; and now, alas, me. So my apologies for the (relative) silence.
Despite battling the bug, there’s lots of excitement coming up. First of all, we’re less than a month to the publication date of Answering the Contemplative Call: First Steps on the Mystical Path. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that later, but for now I want to point out an upcoming event that I hope you’ll find interesting. I often get people asking me, “Why don’t you offer classes online?” And I keep promising that I will do, when I find the time (sorry I’m so busy!). But finally, I have something online to offer.
Starting January 15, 2013, I will be one of the meditation presenters for the Winter Feast for the Soul. Winter Feast is an interfaith initiative designed to foster meditation and contemplative practice. It’s based on a lovely haiku-like poem by Rumi:
What nine months does for the embryo
Forty early mornings
Will do for your growing awareness
Think about it. Our time in the mother’s womb was a time of new life, initial growth, nurture, and preparation for the grand adventure yet to come. Rumi suggests that a daily, early-morning spiritual practice — even just for forty days — can do for the spirit (“your growing awareness”) what the nine months in the womb did for your emerging body. In 2008, some folks, inspired by this short poem, began an initiative in their community to help people start or strengthen a daily meditation practice by initiating what they called a “Winter Feast for the Soul” — a communal commitment to meditate for thirty minutes a day, every day for forty days. Not only was this a huge success, but the organizers were overwhelmed with requests from people around the world, who heard about the Winter Feast through family and friends, and wanted to participate themselves. By the second year a Winter Feast for the Soul website was launched, and the program has grown from there. Now over 100,000 people from around the world participate each year, and meditations are offered from a variety of faith traditions: Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Sufi, interdenominational meditations are all offered, as well as meditations for children and teens, and in German, French and Spanish as well as English.
So this year I am leading the Christian meditations. What this means is that each day, starting January 15, for forty days I will record a 40-minute meditation — but thirty of those minutes will be silent. Each day I will lead a brief induction to contemplation using a process based on lectio divina (sacred reading) — I’ll begin by sharing a verse or short passage from scripture, followed by a brief reflection on the passage, then time for silence in which you may respond to the passage through prayer and contemplation. Then the recording will end with a brief prayer like the Lord’s Prayer, and finally an invitation to those listening to perform an act of kindness during the day, as a way of anchoring the spiritual intention of the practice.
Each day I will offer a new meditation, until the forty day cycle is complete. The recordings will remain available online even after the forty day period ends, so if you miss a few days, or begin the daily practice after January 15, no worries. You can move at your pace. Indeed, one possibility might be to use this forty day discipline as part of your Lenten observance.
To learn more about the Winter Feast for the Soul, visit the website here: Winter Feast for the Soul. You can also go straight to my recorded meditations by following this link: Winter Feast for the Soul: Christian Contemplation, or, alternatively, you can access the recordings by using the “TalkShoe” widget located on my home page here at www.carlmccolman.com. That widget will probably disappear after the Winter Feast 40 days ends in late February, so if you get to this page after that, just follow the links above to access the recordings.
Happy listening — but even more important, blessings to you on your contemplative journey!