Growing Towards God is changing its format this year (2014-2015). There will not be any Tuesday evening sessions this Fall. A longer retreat day is planned for later in the Fall. Stay tuned for details.
Water, Wind, Earth and Fire
Second Tuesday of the month September 2013 – May 2014
with Nancy Phillips
Join us in an exploration of the Christian practice of praying with the elements and learn how this practice can enliven our spiritual lives. Creation itself is a sacred text through which the presence of God is revealed to us. Using study materials from Christine Valters Paintner’s book: Water, Wind, Earth and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements we will cultivate a more contemplative relationship to God through the natural world.
Sessions run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
For those who wish to come earlier, join us for a brown bag supper at 6 pm.
Coffee and tea provided.
Find out more!
When I was a young girl, my parents used to take us to visit my father’s step-sister’s cottage on the shores of Lake Erie at Point Pelee. Although my mother recalls spending a lot of time cooking and cleaning while at the cottage, I harbour many happy memories of those visits. A trip to Point Pelee was always a feast for the senses: the scent of forest, the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore, the sting of sand on my face during a windy walk to the end of the sand spit, the beautiful surroundings of nature – water and sand, forest and open beach and the view of miles of marsh from many trips down the boardwalk. And, of course, to get there one had to travel through Leamington where the scent of tomatoes often emanated from the Heinz factory. We knew our destination was close when we could smell the tomatoes!
Our days were filled with happy summertime activity. But at night I often felt quite frightened. At night the darkness would settle in like a thick blanket. It was so much darker than in the city. When I awoke at night I would be frightened by darkness so thick that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. To comfort myself, I often imagined that angels were standing beside my bed. I carried on lovely conversations with those angels and I always felt at peace after my encounters with the angels.
Point Pelee was a place where thunderstorms seemed to have a particular fury. We would feel the heaviness of the air and see the looming dark clouds as we anticipated the coming storm. The winds would buffet the trees around the cottage and the waves would crash noisily on the shore. The cottage had a screened front porch. This provided a perfect vantage point – front row seats — from which you could sit and watch the spectacular unfolding of God’s fury. The thunder and lightning would be intense and I would feel the rain sift in through the screen in a fine mist that landed on my face. The porch always seemed like a safe haven from the raging storm outside. After the storm the air would smell fresh and fragrant and a sense of peace would settle over the forest surrounding us.
Our Our city-dwelling culture often leaves us with a sense of disconnectedness from nature as a way of understanding God. This loss can prevent us from experiencing a revelation of God rooted in the natural order. Scripture contains many examples of an experience of God through nature. Mark 4:35-41 describes a stormy experience the disciples had on the lake in a boat. They called out to Jesus in their fear and Jesus calmed the storm for them. There are times in our lives when we feel as though we have been caught in the midst of a great storm, buffeted by life’s unexpected turns. In her book Water, Wind, Earth and Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements, Christine Valters Paintner reminds us that although the elements offer us much beauty to contemplate, they also offer us an opportunity to meditate on the challenges of our lives and times of suffering when the firm foundation we have come to rely upon is shaking and crumbling.
Storms are an inevitable and unavoidable part of life. Storms can cause us to question our understanding of who God is and how God works in the world. The winds that come to blow us in a new direction , Paintner says, are not always welcome. Paintner stresses that the scripture teaches us that it is important to continue to wrestle with God and to bring our pain before our Creator.
God is present in the midst of the storms of our life.
God is present in the midst of the storms of our life. We must continue to listen for the sacred presence in the midst of the whirlwind of life. Remaining attentive to our discomfort in the storms of life allows us to experience God breathing through creation and touching our pain as a gentle mist falling in the midst of storm. Be patient in the storms of your life. God will be present in the fury and in the fragrant quietness that follows.
Join us in an exploration of the Christian practice of praying with the elements and learn how this practice can enliven our spiritual lives as we cultivate a more contemplative relationship to God through the natural world, in the upcoming Growing Towards God Fall Series: Water, Wind, Earth and Fire.
Upcoming Series, “The Cup” to ring in 2013
The cup, as a symbol for our spiritual journey, offers us direction as we search for God’s presence and action in our lives.
The book, The Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp provides a framework for contemplative focus alongside the practice and refinement of spiritual disciplines such as contemplative prayer, lectio divina, and journaling; all to aid us on the important journey inward. Facilitated by Spiritual Director, Nancy Phillips.
The Cup of life; The Open Cup January 8
The Chipped Cup February 12
The Broken Cup March 12
The Cup of Compassion April 9
The Cup of Blessing May 14
January 8th – May 14th, 2013
Second Tuesday of the month
Brown Bag Supper at 6:00 pm (optional)
more on The Cup…
by Janelle Clare Schneider
St. Teresa of Avila writes in her masterpiece, The Interior Castle, “Not a little misery and confusion arise from the fact that through our own guilt we do not understand ourselves and do not know who we are … what treasures this soul may harbor within it, who dwells in it, and what great value it has, these are things we seldom consider, and hence people are so little concerned with preserving their beauty with all care.”
The Enneagram is an ancient dynamic symbol of transformation which provides us with a road map to our soul. Through familiarizing ourselves with the energies described, we can better understand who we think we are, who we really are, and how we experience God based on both perception and reality. As we see our inner beauty (and compulsions) through this symbol we then see who we really are, and can “preserve our beauty with all care.”
Richard Rohr puts it this way–“The Enneagram has emerged as a tool that is forcing many of us to a brutal and converting honesty about good and evil and the ways that we hide from ourselves and therefore hide from God.” (Preface, The Enneagram A Christian Perspective)
We begin our study of this symbol by discerning our own place on it. This truly is a discernment process, and not one of labelling or “pigeon-holing”. No one else can tell you “what your number is”. In the early stages of discovery, even you will likely be uncertain as to where you fit. That is not only okay; it’s to be expected! However, as you continue to experience life in the illumination of the Enneagram, you’ll begin to experience a “fit” with particular energies or “spaces”, which will then provide insight into how you interact with life and with God.
Our first session, on September 10, 2012, will discuss the three “centres”–head, heart and gut. Each of us lives out of one of these centres, usually to the exclusion of the other two. Each of these relates to three numbers on the Enneagram, thus helping a person narrow down which energy is dominant in his/her life.
On Ocober 9, 2012, we’ll discuss each of the numbers (also referred to as “energies” or “spaces”) in more detail. Our November session will introduce you to the roadmap for spiritual transformation which is hidden in the symbol, and in December we’ll explore how the energies all interact to create the unique person that is you.
September 11, 2012 – December 11, 2012
Second Tuesday of the month
from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Brown Bag Supper at 6:00 pm (optional)
Don’t forget the upcoming series…
Every Second Tuesday of the month
September 11th – December 11th
with Janelle Schneider
The Enneagram is an ancient symbol which illustrates our journey of spiritual growth. While many limit its interpretation to “personality types”, this study will introduce you to its wealth as a road map for personal transformation.
One Brain or Three? September 11th
You are Here October 9th
The Journey of Transformation November 13th
You’re More Than You Think You Are December 11th
The dates for the Growing towards God series running this fall were posted incorrectly and have been updated in the link below.
Sorry for my mistake.
Correct dates for Inner Transformation through the Enneagram.
Deepening our Learning
Potluck and Overview
Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
at 6:30 to 9:00 pm
with Nancy Phillips and Janelle Schneider
This one night class gives an overview of the last series: Introduction to Spirituality with Nancy Phillips and introduces the next series: Inner Transformation through the Enneagram with Janelle Schneider.
Potluck & Overview
with Nancy Phillips, facillitator
and special guest, Janelle Schneider
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
at 6:30 to 9:00 pm
at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral
Open to everyone!
Introduction to Spirituality:
Deepening our Learning
This final session to our Introduction to Spirituality series will review some of the tools learned for developing our awareness of our spiritual selves and our relationship with God. We will review Centering Prayer technique, Lectio Divina, Examen of Consciousness, body prayer, the Welcoming Prayer, journaling, dream work and contemplation and action.
If you will be joining us for the first time, you will gain an overview of tools for spiritual development that you can begin to explore.
If you attended all or some of the sessions, you will have an opportunity to deepen your understanding of these tools.
Intoduction to the New Series:
through the Enneagram
Our special guest for these evening will be Janelle Schneider, Spiritual Director and Enneagram Facilitator, who will provide us with an overview of the Enneagram. Janelle will be joining us for four sessions on the Enneagram beginning in September.
Come and meet Janelle and learn about the Enneagram as a tool for inner transformation.
We’re excited to announce a new Growing towards God series coming this fall to St. John’s Cathedral!
Starting in September, learn about the Enneagram as a tool for inner transformation with Spiritual Director and Enneagram Facilitator, Janelle Schneider.
See more details on the series,
Inner Transformation Through the Enneagram.