From 25-29 September 2022 Heather and I spent five days in Nanaimo with a group of fifty people from Canada and the US in person and another eighty on Zoom from around the world some as far away as South Africa, attending a retreat/workshop with Cynthia Bourgeault. Heather and I are inveterate note-takers.

With Cynthia’s permission, I will post our notes from “Relearning Trust” over the next week or so.

Please bear in mind, these are personal notes from Cynthia’s spoken words. They are our best attempt to capture what Cynthia said. However, these notes represent what we think we heard. We have tried to record her words as faithfully as possible without adding anything of our own. However, these notes may or may not be an accurate record of what Cynthia actually said.

Bear in mind that these are notes. They are therefore fragmentary and may at times seem to lack continuity. For people unfamiliar with Cynthia’s teaching, these notes may not be particularly helpful.

So, for what it is worth, here is the first instalment of what we recall hearing over five days:

In the first generation, contemplatives had the reputation of being very ungrounded, uninvolved and uninterested in the world.

But the disciplines of silence and letting go of inner chatter are the first step in accessing a higher intelligence that desires to work in us and through us.

Contemplation teaches us to attune to a present embodied sensitivity that enables us to respond collectively from a higher level.

Originally called this retreat “Rebuilding Trust”; but that is not what we are doing. This is not about truth and reconciliation. We are starting from a different place. We are aiming at a quality of proactive trust.

What we have mostly done in the past is to suggest that trust is a situational quality based on evidence that the situation is actually trustworthy. In this case, when broken, trust can’t be restored until the person who has broken trust proves themselves to be trustworthy.

A similar transaction takes place in most versions of forgiveness; there’s a protocol that depends upon the perpetrator acknowledging the wrong they have done before forgiveness can be granted.

The problem is that this is not what Jesus said – “forgive seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). Forgiveness is not quantitative it is qualitative.

The sacred qualities of trust and forgiveness are not situational. They are not called forth by the object proving to be worthy of trust or by the one who has caused hurt confessing their wrong and asking forgiveness.  Rather trust and forgiveness are energetic qualities generated deep within the person who has been wronged or hurt. The source is in the subject.

It is possible to forgive without the forgiveness being preceded by an acknowledgement of wrong; it is possible to trust even when the situation is not trustworthy. We are not going to ever make this world trustworthy but we can offer up something for the healing and nurturing of the life of the Universe.

Trust and forgiveness are powerful active agents whose power resides within the subject who trusts or forgives because that is what is called forth from within them and the failure to trust or forgive is wounding.

The Gospel logic says there is a generative power of the soul which we can wield regardless of the object. It can be given as an offering of hope; this offering changes the atmosphere of the planet. We can decide to extend trust or forgiveness. This choice has the potential to change the situation.

These precious things: faith, hope, love, trust, forgiveness are not just noble qualities; they are subtle spiritual substances/energies. Their substantiality is a direct nutrient to the universe. We have a responsibility to transmit these substances. Their absence creates a mechanical deadening in the planet.

Faith is not a synonym for belief; it is an operative power, an energy. We beings are responsible to demonstrate and communicate these subtle nutrients. We are set up to transmit these nutrients. Taking divine substances and transmitting them to earth is what we are here for. Self-reflexive consciousness is the unique human skill that makes this process possible.