What a treat!

On Thursday, January 21, we headed for a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presided over by Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation. I had heard Fr. Richard  speak in 2006 at a Catholic Coalition on Preaching convocation in Fort Lauderdale.  This seemed like a good opportunity to see and hear him once again. This time, however, it would not be seeing him as a guest speaker, but at a weekend event of his own design with content of great interest to me.

This conference was entitled, Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gates. A note on the website says, “Seeing God in all things and all things in God, we experience the peace that surpasses understanding”. My bookshelf is filled with attempts to tune into the general message the mystics attempt to convey. I have books on, or by, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Thomas Merton, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing.  But my main intention was to gain a greater insight for my prison ministry.

The men I see each week, those in solitary confinement, are very aware of a divine presence in their spare lives. Attempts to be free from the distractions and temptations of everyday life are not of much concern for them. Everything has been taken away. Their rooms are devoid of any and all uplifting content, things to occupy their minds. There is plenty of time for reflection, and plenty of time for despair.

So I was anxious to go and didn’t know what to expect. Shortly after having registered in November, I did notice on their website that the conference was sold out. This was good news to me since there would be much interaction and discussion among the 150 to 200 in attendance. Upon arrival, I learned there were 1200 in attendance! Unexpected and exciting.

The schedule indicated sessions/presentations would be alternating between Richard Rohr and James Finley, about whom I knew absolutely nothing. What a treat! Anytime one can feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth in the first few minutes of a three-day conference, it is a real bonanza. I also came home feeling very uplifted in our faith tradition.

Once the post-conference materials are available, I’ll try to distill the whole works into smaller portions I can share.

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