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School for Contemplative Living offers spiritual seekers a road less taken

In The Road Less Taken poet Robert Frost writes, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

The new School for Contemplative Living program at Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center in Westfield offers spiritual travelers one of those roads “less taken.” Its path is transformational, one with the potential to make “all the difference.”


School for Contemplative Living

These spiritual travelers immerse themselves in an intensive, nine-month formation program, open to people of all faiths or no faith, and rooted in the Christian wisdom tradition. Though based in Christianity, its curriculum draws on eastern spiritualities with deep contemplative and mystical traditions as well.

Genesis opened the program last September, and is currently enrolling participants for its September 2019 session. According to Genesis Executive Director, Liz Walz, ASP, “The evaluations from the 18 participants thus far have been tremendous, with people expressing lots of enthusiasm and gratitude for the program, and saying it is meeting their need for deeper connections with God.”

Engaging participants
During their studies, participants take time away from their day-to-day lives to engage with program leaders and one another and to attend the course’s five residential retreat weekends conducted on the Genesis campus.

Walz and ComerfordExplaining the curriculum, Walz (seated, left, with Sister Jane Comerford, SSJ) said, “This program is taught through Christian, contemplative, evolutionary, prophetic, and inter-spiritual lenses. Its participants explore the contemplative vision and practice set within an ecological, inter-spiritual and socially engaging framework. The learning is both intellectual and experiential and seeks to nourish both head and heart.” She added, “The curriculum includes teaching, practice, ritual, and group process, and in between the retreat weekends, the students’ formation continues through study, conference calls, and the program’s online community.”

Walz first nurtured her own desire to deepen her spiritual life by taking a contemplative living program through the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M. That enriching experience, coupled with the absence of contemplative living programs along the eastern seaboard, led to Genesis’ decision to add a School to its programing schedule.

Walz clarified that the Genesis program is not the same as the one she attended but is “…modeled on the gifts and strengths of our leaders—Brother Don Bisson, FMS, Sister Jane Comerford, CSJ, Dr. Robert Jonas, Christina Leano, and the Reverend Matthew Wright.”

Defining expected outcomes
Learning outcomes for participants include, but are not limited to 1. developing a daily contemplative practice and Rule of Life; 2. gaining an intellectual and theological framework for understanding this moment of history; and, 3. understanding and applying the School’s lenses to participants’ life circumstances.


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