Westwood Retreat

Sabbath in Daily Life Workshop

On a beautiful Saturday May 10 '08, over thirty gathered together (including many spiritual directors) at wonderful Nassagaweya Retreat near Guelph to participate in the Sabbath in Daily Life workshop led by Dr. Duncan Westwood. Dr. Westwood provided a welcome balance of teaching, practice, reflection and discussion alongside a fantastic presentation of centering prayer as a way to develop a Sabbath poise for daily life. Dr. Westwood brought, not only his expertise as a spiritual director and clinical director at International Health Management, but also his insights and understanding from over two decades of practicing centering prayer in his own daily walk with God.

This workshop was an excellent resource for spiritual directors to strengthen their knowledge, skill, and gift in centering upon the life of God within, thereby receiving his grace and presence and enabling for mission. Not only in our prayer and our daily life but even more in our own practice of spiritual direction, remaining centered and still, free from distractions, is crucial for our effectiveness in simultaneously listening to God and directee and discerning the movements of God. Dr. Westwood expressed his wish that all spiritual directors practiced centering prayer. He wrote, "Centering Prayer is a method of prayer, which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence. … It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God’s presence and action within."

Dr. Westwood grounded his theology of centering prayer in the greatest commandment — to love the LORD your God with all of your mind, heart, soul, and strength. The result is a holistic understanding involving our upward journey, inward journey, and outward journey, as well as our whole being. The fruit is that centering prayer brings "a cohesive sense of balanced rest through immersion in the Lord’s environment of love." In centering prayer, one comes with a desire "to gently surrender one’s whole being and be totally open to God’s love," such that this prayer is both "a practice and relationship of surrender that deeply immerses our being in the Oneness of God’s love."

Through all of the teaching, practice of silent prayer, reflection on our experience of silence and our views of God, those present enjoyed space to connect with God and each other as they were equipped a bit more for their journey. Surely, each received from God what God willed and purposed.