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Welcome to ICCD

If you’ve come to this website because you too are in search of new ways to bring about change, permit me to introduce you to this site and the mission and work of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. Founded in 2002, ICCD seeks new ways of engaging the impasse that many persons experience as they struggle to bring about systemic change in societal and ecclesial arenas. Since its beginning ICCD has recognized that all the usual ways of addressing such “no way out situations” are inadequate. ICCD believes that the only way to address these situations is to bring them to the deep inner resources of contemplation. ICCD believes we are living in a critical time for the evolution of our planet—a chaos point where breakdown or breakthrough occurs. ICCD’s work has brought hundreds of people to a new understanding of how to be and act in responding to the growing injustices within our world. On this site you will find a rich library of reflections on key areas helpful to your work of transformation. I’d invite you to click on the tabs Contemplation, Impasse, Dialogue, Reflections and Readings. When you do you will find a number of short reflections under each of those areas. Those you will want to click on as well. All the reflections have a picture and some poetry to enhance your personal reflection on the topic. At the end of a reflection there is often an annotated bibliography for your use. Some of the reflection under are also in Spanish and French. You will find the Spanish and French words “Impasse” and “Dialogue” linked.  Click on each link Under the Contemplation tab you will also see Contemplate This which is the series of articles that I have written for the National Catholic Reporter’s blog: Global Sisters Report. ICCD’s initial program, Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue®  invited participants to look at impasse from the perspective of communal contemplation and dialogue and to imagine another way of being and doing. Evolving from those experiences, the focus for ICCD’s second decade is Exercising Contemplative Power (ECP). Continuing the work of the engaging impasse process we now provide opportunities, processes and reflections so as to accelerate the growth in consciousness needed for transformation through a process of communal contemplation and dialogue. Click on the Exercising Contemplative Power tab and you will find a series of reflections on justice issues from the perspective of ECP as well as a summary of the first ECP conference. We were joined by Cynthia Bourgeault for the 2013 or second ECP conference. Under this tab you will be able to download the major presentations for a very small fee. Another way in which we exercise contemplative power is the ICCD Contemplative Sitting Network. We are growing an international community of those willing to commit to sit in contemplation for 20 minutes daily between 6:00-7:30 am in whatever time zone you are in. We hope to be present in all time zones focusing our intention for personal, social and ecclesial transformation. Click on the Contemplative Sitting Network tab to read more about it and to join in! ICCD programs include Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue® and Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty. We periodically convene national gatherings to deepen our experience around our key focus. Other programs are tailored to meet the needs of groups interested in engaging impasse, the transformation of consciousness, listening and speaking from a contemplative heart and exercising contemplative power. We know the task of transformation does not happen in isolation. We hope that this web site will be a source of support, enrichment, networking, and creativity for those of us who believe deeply in communal contemplation and dialogue as a way of evolving our consciousness. We hope you like this website and if you do would you tell your friends. Would you click “Like” on FACEBOOK and ask your friends to do the same. Nancy Sylvester, IHM Founder and President Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue © 2015 Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue Reprint with permission

Lesson from Outer Space

January 2016

A new year. Ending the old year and welcoming in the new is surrounded by quite a ritual. We watch the bright silver ball drop in Times Square and we make New Year resolutions in hope of changing some of our behavior. We have a sense that the new year brings us another opportunity to try to be better. As I pause to reflect on this “transition” from an evolutionary lens I see some similarities. Read More

Exercising our Religious Imagination this Christmas

December 2015 The Nativity scene is what comes to mind for many of us when we think about Christmas. There is the manger with Mary kneeling by the infant Jesus with Joseph by her side. Often there are shepherds and a few sheep as well as some angels hovering in the sky. When St. Francis of Assisi created this image in the 1200s, he did it to remind people that this holy day is about worshiping God rather than gift giving. But this visual image did far more than that. For the people of his time it spoke to the felt sense of what this mystery was about, and it became a permanent part of our religious imagination. Read More

Engaging Impasse

Impasse might not be a familiar word for you. But see if the following questions resonate with you. As you reflect on your life on this planet do you experience a sense of powerlessness, a feeling that things have gotten so complex that you don’t have the answers anymore? Do you feel a sense of futility as you continue your work of transformation, a realization that all the ways you know for effecting change and influencing others are not enough–they are not adequate–they just aren’t working? Do you experience a low-grade anger or a grief that never leaves you?   Read More

Contemplative Sitting Network

…We are reminded of Dorothy Soelle’s words: “Contemplation sees things as God sees them and leads to an active resistance to evil.” We recognized that although we each exercise our own contemplative power, we want to grow in our capacity to exercise it together. The Contemplative Sitting Network gives us an opportunity to move more deeply into both of these realities….. Read More

Hearts Open to Receive

It’s called Moab Under Canvas, and it is located just down the road from Arches National Park in southern Utah. Friends and I decided that as long as we were in Salt Lake City for the Parliament of World Religions we would drive down to see what many believe to be one of the more spectacular national parks. We needed a place to stay, and funds were limited. Moab under Canvas seemed just the right spot. The tents were already set up with hard linoleum and throw rugs placed on the floor. Each one was equipped with comfortable beds and warm blankets; the rest rooms were clean and more than adequate — and the price was right. The one concern, however, was that our stay would take place in mid-October. It could be pretty cold at night at that time of year. So we came prepared with heavy sweaters, long underwear, hats and gloves. Little did we know! I find experiences like the above are like food that when properly digested become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. So, two months later I find myself still “chewing” on it. I felt so small that night the Earth shook, as I did taking in the 360-degree breathtaking panorama of Arches National Park. Read More

A matter of choice: Leaning into the energy of the Resurrection in dark times

by Margaret Galiardi, OP (ICCD staff member)  (Global Sisters Report, November 24, 2015)

The deadly massacre in Paris on Friday evening, Nov. 13, called to mind two recent personal experiences. The first took place in Salt Lake City at the Parliament of World Religions, which I had attended in October.

The Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative of the Washington based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) sponsored a luncheon conversation on Countering Extremism in the Age of the Islamic State. CFR Fellows Farah Pandith and Graeme Wood were to discuss the ideological roots of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, political and economic drivers of radicalization, and international efforts to combat extremism. Wood began summarizing his March 2015 article which appeared in The Atlantic, “What ISIS Really Wants.” He offered his opinion that the United States would be wise to “take out” the self-declared head of the caliphate Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The discussion continued for an additional five minutes or so, when a woman unknown to me raised her hand.  Read More

OnthegroundFrom Ecuador to Nigeria; Selma to Vietnam, Catholic sisters engage the world through Gospel values and make countless contributions to human development, including Nancy Sylvester, IHM’s Contemplation: A Call to All On the Ground is a compilation of 23 of the finest reports and columns published during Global Sisters Report’s first year. These stories, written by and about sisters, highlight the diversity of projects and people to which Catholic sisters have dedicated their lives. Through this lens, we learn about solutions to critical issues facing humanity.

Click here to find out more.