John Chuchman, author of 14 books, lecturer and writer of an internet blog “Speaking My Truth” was in Missoula this past weekend to facilitate a gathering and retreat of fellow Spiritual Seekers. John’s mission statement and life work since his retirement in 1992: “To do whatever he can to help Grievers, Caregivers, fellow Spiritual Seekers along life’s journey, assisting in any way to help find True Self with Love and Compassion.”
The retreat was sponsored by Western Montana Spiritual Development Council (WMSDC) in collaboration with Concerned Catholics of Montana (CCMT). From Friday evening through Sunday afternoon John and some thirty-three participants prayed, reflected and discussed matters of common concern. It was a meaningful, exciting and spirit-filled event.
Indeed, John would describe our coming together as one more illustration of the Holy Spirit (a force-field) at work—like-minded people tending to find each other. Over the past several months, CCMT members have been reading John’s poems that, both in form and content, engage people searching for a spirituality that speaks to our times and life experiences.
We are grateful for his urging that we continue to move out of our comfort zone, for the assurance that our group – CCMT is far from an isolated phenomenon, for re-affirming our conviction that the church needs a new direction, one pointing not upward but forward, not toward “heaven above” but to a new future of healthy relationships in the cosmos, a new heaven on earth.
A gift worthy of special note is the tool John provided for what he called “cracking open the beatitudes”. His assistance in helping us hear these gospel challenges, not in English as we traditionally do, but in the Aramaic which Jesus spoke, provided a glimpse of what authentic christian life in an evolutionary world could look like. The translation of the “Aramaic Beatitudes” is posted on the Poetman’s Page.
While talking with John about the possibility of coming to Missoula for a retreat, our CCMT spirituality document, Towards an Adult Spirituality in the 21st Century, caught John’s attention. In collaboration with John and the American Catholic Council (ACC) our document has recently been published in John’s poetic style on Catholica and is also available here on our website: A Theology of Today – John Chuchman. Our friendship with John took firmer root with that collaborative effort.
As we extend thanks to John Chuchman, now back in Arizona, we also want to express our gratitude to some Missoula friends who helped make the weekend possible—to Jana Staton at Western Montana Spiritual Development Council (WMSDC) for sponsoring our event and to Linda Andrus at Unity Church of Missoula for providing a wonderful space for our gathering.
And to all those who attended the retreat and wholeheartedly participated, our deepest appreciation. You are the ones who made this possible. Hope you will enjoy these photos that were taken during this meaningful weekend.