How can we have hope when we don’t even know what is going to happen to us? Br. David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and the co-founder of Gratefulness.org, turns this equation on its head. Hope, he says, is by definition “openness for surprise.” To become aware of the opportunity that a given moment offers us is the essence of training in grateful living. Once we become aware of an opportunity, during happy times or even amidst great suffering, we can interact with it. This frees us from our addiction to the predictable and brings us fully alive.
This retreat is one of three on the “Divine Virtues” based on videos of Br. David’s talks during a 2011 cruise to Alaska. The virtues are faith (Trusting in Life – 2020), hope, and love (Choosing to Love – 2020). These positive attitudes towards life, which appear in all religious traditions and spiritual paths, can become second nature to us. They connect us to the deepest reality of life, the divine spark within us.
In the videos for this retreat, Br. David’s wit and wisdom are evident as he explores various facets of hope. He talks about limitations being (surprisingly!) some of our best opportunities and about holding our hopeful expectations firmly but lightly, just as we would any tool. He then moves from the personal realm into broader social ramifications of hope: looking, for instance, at how exploitation can be countered by gratitude for each person’s unique contributions.
Each of the 12 emails includes a link to a video of Br. David’s teachings about hope from the Alaska cruise, accompanied by written reflections. Study questions are provided to spark your own thoughts to record in your personal journal or share in the Practice Circle, an online forum open 24/7 to the e-course community.
This retreat was created by Patricia Campbell Carlson, formerly Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living (ANG*L) and now Program Director at Spirituality & Practice, assisted by Margaret Wakeley, now S&P’s Creative Director. Both accompanied Br. David on the Alaska cruise and have worked closely with him on Gratefulness.org.
We invite you to learn how to be open for surprise. We will also be offering Br. David’s teachings on love (Choosing to Love – 2020) in September.