The 2013 Contemplative Outreach annual conference was held October 24th through the 27th in Snowmass, Colorado. It was intentionally designed as a retreat rather than business meeting. The speakers were incredible, including Abbot Joseph Boyle from St. Benedict's monastery, Sister Meg Funk, Father Keating and Father William Menninger. Any of these people could have been a retreat in themselves, such was the richness of this event. Each spoke on a different topic, but their thinking converged on our dependence on God and the divine desire to participate in daily life. We were urged to persevere in the centering prayer practice despite seeming obstacles. Father William concluded the talks with the words of Mother Julian, "That all manner of things shall be well."
On Saturday we were invited to tour the monastic enclosure and have Eucharist with the monks. They were exceptional in their hospitality as is their custom. We were made to feel genuinely welcome in their home. That evening a banquet was held at the hotel. It was a touching moment when Father Thomas said that the Holy Spirit was the driving force behind centering prayer whether he (Father Thomas) was there or not. We were also blessed with the showing of a DVD about Father Thomas's spiritual journey called the "Rising Tide of Silence." It was produced by his nephew and will be available at a later date (Editor's note: you can see it here in the Twin Cities on Sunday, January 26th.). It will be of interest to anyone who practices centering prayer.
In Snowmass we stayed at the Viceroy Hotel. We had a two bedroom suite with master bedroom and bath, a terrace overlooking the ski slopes, full kitchen, living room, another bedroom and bath and a very sophisticated espresso maker that challenged our mechanical skills. All this by virtue of off-season rates. It was wonderful. Next year’s conference will be in Miami during late September. We switch from the mountains to the ocean. Attending the conference provides a broader vision of centering payer, as it is truly an international network!
Bob Delastrada is a longtime practitioner of Centering Prayer, and acts as librarian/archivist on the board of Minnesota Contemplative Outreach.