Nurturing Our Spiritual Life
Support for the contemplative journey is essential, but may be a little hard to find in most local religious congregations. It is helpful to supplement one’s spiritual diet. Here are some of the resources I have found helpful over the years, most of which are located in Eastern Massachusetts / Rhode Island. But with a little research you should be able to find similar help wherever you live. I would welcome comments to this page to add spiritual resources in New England which you have found particularly helpful.
Abbeys and Retreat Centers
Glastonbury Abbey, Hingham, Massachusetts (Benedictine), is a wonderful place for personal and programmed retreats. Guests are welcome at all the daily services. There is also a labyrinth and herb garden and places to walk. Spiritual direction is available on request: http://www.glastonburyabbey.org
Mount St. Mary’s Abbey, Wrentham, Massachusetts (Cistercian Nuns). Facilities are available for private and group retreats. Guests are welcome at daily services: http://www.abbey.msmabbey.org
LaSalette Shrine and Retreat House, Attleboro. The Shrine provides many helpful programs and retreats, as well as being supportive of ecumenical efforts for justice and peace and helping the poor. Also there are beautiful walking trails and a weekly meditation group: http://www.lasalette.org
There are many monastic communities who welcome the weary spiritual traveler. Check them out in your locale. They are wonderful havens of quiet and simplicity.
Also Protestant conference centers and camps are available for personal retreat. There is more openness to this idea now than a few years ago. Here are some I have used:
Grotonwood Camp and Conference Center http://www.grotonwood.org
Canonicus Camp and Conference Center http://www.canonicus.org
Craigville Conference Center http://www.craigville.org
Rolling Ridge http://www.rollingridge.org
The chants of the Taize ecumenical community in France are beautiful and meditative. There is a monthly service at St. John Neumann Church, East Freetown, Mass. Check out their website for details. If you know of others, please add a comment to this page.
Just enter your zip code at the labyrinth locator and you will find all the information you need: http://www.labyrinthlocator.com
Meditation and Centering Prayer
The website for the World Community for Christian Meditation has a locator for meditation groups. The community provides support in several ways, but the primary method is the weekly meditation group: http://www.wccm-usa.org
Centering Prayer has its roots in Massachusetts at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spenser (where Thomas Keating was a monk), and there are several local groups available: http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org
Christians may learn a lot from Zen Buddhists and the folks at the Providence Zen Center in Cumberland , R.I. are very welcoming: http://www.providencezen.org
Yoga is an excellent preparation for meditation and I recommend the programs and retreats at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts: http://www.kripalu.org
Spiritual Direction and Friendship
If you are looking for a spiritual director you might check out retreat centers in your area which provide spiritual direction and/or ask people you know who already are in direction. Also the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation trains spiritual directors and may be able to give you a referral : http://www.shalem.org
Spiritual Directors International has a good guide to finding a spiritual director on their website: http://www.sdiworld.org
Also spiritual friendships are vital. The book Spiritual Friend by Tilden Edwards is an invaluable read.
Places for solitude
Conservation areas provide wonderful places to be immersed in the healing power of nature. The contemplative person needs quiet and refreshing places to walk. In Massachusetts the Commonwealth provides many such beautiful places through the Department of Conservation Resources and private agencies like the Trustees of Reservations and the Audubon Society.
Henry David Thoreau once wrote “I think I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements” (quoted in the AMC’s Best Day Hikes near Boston by Michael Tougias, 2006).
In the winter time I find restoration in the tropical temperatures and flowers at the greenhouses in Roger Williams Park, Providence. It is a wonderful Caribbean getaway for $3.00 admission.