A November message from Fr. Justin

Posted on Nov 11, 2018

On September 1st, I led a short practice period of  Centering Prayer at St. John’s in Williamstown, as part of the Conspire Conference put on by the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC).  CAC is the organization Fr. Richard Rohr O.F.M. founded and continues to lead.

The Reverend Mark Longhurst, minister at First Congregational in Williamstown, is a graduate of CAC’s Living School and was one of Fr. Richard’s young contemplative leaders at the Contemplative Exchange last summer out in Colorado.  The Conspire conference was actually live webcasted into St. John’s Episcopal where Fr. Nathaniel Anderson is the new Lutheran trained Rector.

It was an important first collaboration for the three of us and thanksgivings go in a big way to Mark who bore the brunt putting much of this together.  Parishioners and members of all three congregations were present along with a few students from Williams College.

Later that Saturday, I was present at Dr. Patrick MacManaway’s talk that he gave at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship across the street from St. Peter’s.  Patrick is a medical Doctor of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, but the talk reflected his work as a geopathic consultant and his subtle energy work with farms.  This sort of practice is sometimes called  “imaginal practice” especially by the  17th century Lutheran Jakob Böhme who wrote extensively on the “Imaginalis Mundi” or “Imaginal World”.  You may remember a few sermons from last year that focused on this aspect of Christian prayer and experience.

So my day began with the high contemplative traditions of Centering Prayer and ended with the imaginal heart traditions and subtle energies of the land and electromagnetic properties of Bennington. It was an exciting weekend of collaboration and prayer and blessings.  Over the course of the next year, I hope to collaborate more and more with my colleagues in Williamstown as well as with Dr. Patrick.

In doing so, it will be important for us to understand how the high contemplative and the imaginal practices in Christianity relate to one another and how they are different and engage differently the uncreated God as well as God’s wondrous creation.  I hope to put forth a short series of Keystone articles providing some context for understanding these two distinct traditions and along side the moral, ethical, and ascetical traditions in our Christian tradition.

More to come.


A quick update on the deepening collaborations of the Reverends Mark, Nathaniel, and Justin:

On October 2nd , at St. John’s Church in Williamstown, Reverend Mark gave the sermon for Nathaniel’s installation, while I prayed along with the clergy and people of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.  The good Reverend Mark and I prepped for the whole affair with a period of centering prayer at First Congregational across the quad.  The newly installed Rector later joined us and the parish at large in a feast of sausages, cheeses, and a variety of German beverages.