We Meet in Small Groups

By Choosing Contemplation You Choose to be Marginalized

I had my first small group meeting (held monthly; in between retreat weekends) on November 1st: our facilitator, Janet, passed out a sheet to us about what Contemplation is, and what it is not. Taken all at once, it seemed daunting, yet I'm sure that I'm in the right place, doing the right thing. The statement I'm using as my headline is from that sheet, and I find it the most daunting of all.

What does it mean, "to be marginalized"? I said at the meeting that after the first weekend retreat, I felt like Michael Palin at the end of the travel documentary, Around the World in 80 Days. He's sitting on the London tube and thinking to himself, "I've just been around the world in 80 days, and none of these people know it." He's ready to burst with the excitement of his accomplishment, but he also knows that few people, if anyone, on the train would care.

I am so excited by this program, feel so blessed, that I find myself talking about it to everyone I can. Most people's eyes start to glaze over after a couple of sentences. But one woman, who overheard my conversation at my church's thrift shop, was as excited as I was about what I was saying. She said, "You're right, you open yourself up to God, and your life will be changed in ways you can't foresee." She parted by offering me God's blessings.

My spiritual director, Jeanine, was also encouraging, saying she was glad to hear that I was evangelizing my experience, "Sharing the Good News." This is not something I have been comfortable with in the past. Episcopalians, in general, shiver a little bit when you talk about evangelizing, "That's something those other Christians do. We Episcopalians are too polite for that. If we have a good thing, people will know, and come join us." The question is, How will they know, if we won't talk about it?

But I also feel like Scrooge, as played by Alistair Sim, at the end of the movie when he says, "I don't deserve to be so happy. I can't help it. I just can't help it." The rightness of this experience, and the incredible excitement it is generating in me, make sharing it almost beyond my control. I just have to get used to people not being as interested in it as I am.

The glorious thing about the program is that there are twenty other people going through the same experience I am, so at least I can talk to them about it. In our small group meeting, we shared our experiences after the first weekend, and once again I found myself surrounded by thoughtful, supportive, and innovative thinkers. Brother David, who lives about two blocks from me in the Bronx and gave me a ride home from the first weekend, is also in my small group, so that was a special bonus.

And this coming weekend is Retreat Weekend #2 (of five). My journey to somewhere will continue. I hope it will continue to excite. Once I am re-energized, I will have even more to share with you as your eyelids flutter! Even if no one reads this blog, I feel it is helping me in the process.

So if you're out there, wish me well!


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