October 2023

Dear Group Leaders and Friends in Christian Meditation,

I can’t believe that it is October already. The last time I communicated with you was in August. I was preparing to attend the John Main Seminar taking place at our international center for meditation and peace, Bonnevaux. It was a long journey to France but well worth it. The best journeys take time, take us out of our comfort zones. That is true of our physical journeys as well as our spiritual journeys leading us into the heart of God.

I reach out to you once a month, or at least I try to, but shortly after arriving home from Bonnevaux, inspired, and challenged, I came down with Covid. Now feeling human again, I can reflect on my experience of the John Main Seminar and the silent retreat that preceded the seminar. I am hoping that many of you were able to participate online. The title of the seminar New Wine, New Skins was inspired by the Gospel of St. Luke:

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.” (5:37-38)

It is a remembering of the freshness of the Jesus’ revolution. The freshness and revolutionary act of sitting down to meditate every morning and evening to sit still, silent and lay aside our thoughts as we say our mantra, maranatha. We need to be refreshed at our root during these challenging days.

The retreat and the seminar were led by Cynthia Bourgeault, Andrew Harvey, and our own Laurence Freeman. There were those of us gathered at Bonnevaux as well as those attending virtually. It was an energized and spiritually invigoration moment that, for me, was necessary in these challenging times. Andrew Harvey has suggested that we are in a universal “Dark Night of the Soul.” I suspect that we would all agree with Andrew’s intuition. It only takes a moment reading the newspaper or scrolling social media to see the darkness of war, climate catastrophe and partisan divide to get a sense of these painful times. The question as Christian meditators, as people of faith, is how we ought to respond to these times. The answer, like meditation, is simple, simple yet not easy: love. St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was a French Carmelite nun who died quite young, but her simple life and profound writings, according to Andrew Harvey hold the key to whatever lies ahead for the human family and our earthly home. Here is a helpful example for me: “Everything passes in the evening of life, love alone remains.” I think that is why John Main taught that meditation creates a community of love. The most revolutionary action we can take is to choose love over hate.

Our meditation has the potential to transform each of us into the loving women and men that God has created us to be in his image believing that God is love. It is the teaching in our tradition that meditation is more than a technique. It is a discipline that we take every single day to sit in silence simply saying our mantra. It is a learning process where we begin to understand how distracted and fragmented we are, in our own minds, with our own inner wars and insurrections. No wonder our world has such struggles when we peer inside our own heads for a moment as we struggle to say our word, our mantra. The simple, but not easy, discipline of Christian meditation might just be the antidote our ailing world needs right now.

One of the best parts of attending the retreat and seminar was being with likeminded people, spiritual friends. We came from different places in our lives, but each knowing from their own experience the gift of meditation. It brought joy to my heart and uplifted my spirit. I think that is one of the many gifts that each of us receives by participating in a meditation group, being with likeminded people and knowing that we aren’t alone.

I will end with a simple reminder that we gather on the first Monday of the month for night prayer (Compline) and meditation. You can go to our website to register if you haven’t already. (www.wccm-usa.org) Also we will send an email reminder to register for the November 4th Compline soon. If you have already registered, it is not necessary to register again. We have two sessions on that first Monday; one particularly for the Eastern and Central time zones and one for Mountain and Pacific time zones but come to whatever session works best for you.

It is a lovely opportunity to end our days with a time with scripture, meditation, and community. Please join us!

Kevin Maksym