- Week 2 -
7:15-8:00 AM, Monday - Friday, Presbyterian House Sanctuary
12:30-1:55 PM, Tuesday and Thursday, Hall of Missions
At the center of all great religious traditions is the practice of meditation. This was true for the early Christian Ammas and Abbas (mothers and fathers) who sought lonely places for contemplation in the vast deserts at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. One of these, John Cassian, lived from about 360 to 435 CE. Out of his prayer practices and meditative experiences, he wrote many profound mystical writings that deeply inspired influential figures such as St. Benedict, who is regarded as the founding figure of monasticism in the Christian West. St. Benedict's Rule provides a pattern for Christian meditation used to this day.
In our week together, we will draw on this rich tradition by meditating using practices developed by The World Community for Christian Meditation (http://wccm-usa.org/).This relatively new movement was founded by the Benedictine John Main, OSB (1926-1982), one of the first to rediscover and then teach the early Christian tradition of contemplative meditation for a new generation of people from all faith backgrounds.
The word meditation is derived from the Latin word, meditari. Among other things, meditari means "to reflect on, to study, and to practice." Christian meditation encourages focus on specific thoughts, such as a brief scripture passage or one meaningful word from the religious tradition of the practitioner. Those who meditate are then asked to think about the meaning of their chosen word or passage in light of the love of God. For example, some use the word "Maranatha," from the Aramaic language, meaning "Come, Lord." Others take a simple word like "peace/paz/pax" to begin their meditation. An example of a scripture passage that may be used in meditation is "Peace, be still" (Mark 4:39) or "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
We look forward to sharing this ancient practice of meditation with you.
Ron and Rebecca Cole-Turner
Rebecca Cole-Turner and Ron Cole-Turner
Rebecca Cole-Turner, CJN, spent her childhood among the ancient redwoods and wildflowers of coastal northern California, where she first delighted in the spirituality of our natural world. Now living with her husband, Ron, on the banks of the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, PA, she is a spiritual director and a pilgrimage and retreat leader. Ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ, Rebecca also serves as Minister of Spiritual Formation at Smithfield United Church of Christ in Pittsburgh. A retired psychologist whose therapy practice centered on helping people heal from trauma, Rebecca is a published poet whose poems often reflect her love of nature.
Rebecca is a Friend of the World Community of Christian Meditation - USA and has been an Associate Member of the Iona Community in Scotland for over two decades. She is also a Companion of Julian of Norwich (CJN). Julian of Norwich, c. 1342 – c. 1416, was an anchorite who is considered to be one of the most important of the English mystics. Julian has been one of Rebecca's most significant spiritual mentors for over three decades. A member of the Friends of Julian of Norwich (http://juliancentre.org/) for many years, Rebecca was inducted as a Companion in a ceremony held in Julian's reconstructed anchorhold at St. Julian's Church, Norwich, England, in May 2014. As a Companion, Rebecca is part of a worldwide spiritual community of people who have committed themselves to a Rule of life that involves living in our troubled world in a manner inspired by Sister Julian's life and her insights that are grounded in the Christian mystical tradition.
In July 2014, Rebecca organized a team which began leading the weekly Taizé & Tea service, with Ron as pianist, held every Monday evening during the season at the United Church of Christ Randell Chapel. It is a contemplative service of prayer and meditative chant open to people of all faiths.
Ron Cole-Turner is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and a professor of theology and ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he teaches classes in many areas including Christian spiritual theology. His most recent book is The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins.
- Workshop Names -
Tuesday afternoon – Taste and See: Awakening to the Practice of Christian Meditation
Thursday afternoon - A Brief Trip to Taizé: Meditation, Prayer and Chant