The liturgical year begins with the shattering of time and the call to conversion in Advent and ends in the anointing of the Holy Spirit and being sent out into the world at Pentecost. In each season - Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension - the Christian is called to enter a deeper consciousness with the Divine. We'll talk about the mystical journey and ways of being in relationship with God in the seasons of the soul. After the presentations, we will discuss together the path of grace in our own lives and in community.
Dark Love: Meeting the Beloved at the Empty Tomb.
Eight Meditations on Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the Risen Lord in John’s Gospel. The meeting of the soul with Divine Love in mystical union in the “dark love” of contemplation (Mary coming to the tomb in the dark) opens to Apostolic Union (Mary is "sent out" to proclaim the Resurrection). Using renderings of Mary Magdalene in art, we see how she carries many archetypes, all of which can help us in our own deepening experience of faith in our encounters with the Beloved.
Inhabiting Your Prayer: Creating an Abbey of the Imagination
By placing aspects of a life of prayer into the context of an imaginary cathedral-like church with gardens and guesthouses, cloisters and towers, participants design a balanced interior life. Based upon the medieval use of “memory palaces” the Abbey of the Imagination reclaims a playful and traditional tool for growing in depth and prayerfulness.
Nourished for a Time and Times and Half a Time (Rev.12:14)
Let's take time together to talk about time! We'll talk about the lack of time in our lives, wasting time and the mere filling of time, what makes us feel alive and what makes us feel half-alive. We'll talk about the time-traveling properties of prayer and the reclaiming of sacred time. We'll laugh, talk, learn together, and enjoy each other.
Using basic improvisational techniques, participants learn to embody a Biblical text for an experience of “deep play.” Rather than a performance, “playing the text” involves everyone, creating scenes of people, objects, and settings. Sharing personal revelations after “playing” reveals unusual and original insights into scripture. This technique can be used with any age group and across generations.
I think everyone comes into Retreat for one reason, the simple hope of drawing a little closer to God. What happens each time Suzanne is conductor is that this is exactly what happens. It is not so much what Suzanne says that works the magic -- It is more what Suzanne herself evokes, simply by her own presence and her own passion. Suzanne has stood on the mountain top, we catch her vision. She brings a first-hand experience of the living God we seek and long for, and our own hearts catch new fire. For me each retreat with Suzanne has been the very rendezvous my heart needed and longed for -- surely a little divine alchemy at work!
Canon Katherine Clark Spiritual Programs Coordinator The DeKoven Center
Suzanne's retreats feed my soul deeply with imagery, sounds, and smells that linger in my life for months. Suzanne has a unique gift of opening our souls and giving us space to hear them speak. She invites participants to explore creatively with different media including walking, reading, journalling, poetry, drawing and music. Through this creation I have come to hear my soul speak in ways that I have never heard. The thoughts and images she has introduced years ago continue to emerge in my own work--both personally and professionally. I leave every retreat fed, rested and grounded.
Earth view from Saturn, Cassini
After the Whirlind: Stances of Prayer Inspired By The Book of Job
This retreat draws on the character of Job, God's beloved suffering servant. Job, already a man of deep prayer, grows and transforms through his ordeal and after his encounter with the theophany in the whirlwind. We look at ways of prayer that Job inspires; wonder, transcendence, and exploration, resistance, drawing upon cosmology, anthropology, art and architecture. The experience circles around the question of preparing the mind and heart for stances of open-ended prayer.
Giving Up On God: John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, and the Dark Night of the Soul
“If you see the Buddha, kill him.” Talk One looks at the teaching and poetry of John of the Cross's Dark Night of the Soul. Talk Two is a case study of 19th century Thérèse of Lisieux's “darkness” and the spiritual breakthroughs the Night brought about in her before she died at age 24. We then look at the apophatic way of prayer, of knowing God by “unknowing.” Followed by questions and discussion.
Entering the Seasons of the Soul. Using Teresa of Avila’s image of The Interior Castle, participants explore the maze of dwelling places along the path toward union with the Beloved. Each dwelling place is in itself a rich world to discover and inhabit, where gifts may be discerned to give to one another and the world, even in the darkest nights of the soul. This retreat has several forms and can be extended to include teachings of John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Edith Stein.