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The Art of Attention in an Age of Overwhelm 

Pre-Festival Offering
Thursday September 2, 2021

9 am – 5 pm

cost: $59.00


In 2020, the world as we knew it turned upside down. 

Patterns interrupted. Values erupted. Many lives slowed down. Some lives ended altogether, on this side of the veil.

We vowed to ourselves that this pain wouldn’t be ‘wasted,’ and our lives would ‘change forever’…but in our rush to ‘get back to normal,’ have we really learned anything? 

As the tragedy of this pandemic reveals our fragility and our strengths alike, how do we retain the deep treasures from a season where everything shifted? 

And how do we ‘spend’ this treasure wisely, to cultivate a richer experience of life?

This year, join a diverse group of wisdom teachers across spiritual paths and practices as we explore these very questions. 

After 18+ months of living behind screens with understandable vigilance, let’s take a ‘sacred pause’ together by the French Broad river and remember what it’s like to dwell together in breath and soil. 

Let’s take a break from the already-returning habits of forgetting, freneticism, and adrenaline-addiction to reclaim the stories, practices, and embodied states of uhurried abundance.

Let’s learn how to love God, our neighbors, our planet, and ourselves — and receive love from each in turn.

Who knows? Maybe we can renew these innate capacities within us, together. 

And return to the restless wider world with clear eyes, open hands, and full hearts.

Wisdom Camp Sessions

Introduction to Internal Liberation – Therese Taylor Stinson
What is internal liberation? How can we be internally bound by unhealthy responses? Drawing on the deep wells of Black spiritual traditions and the work of Toni Morrison in particular, Therese will introduce us to the in-depth Internal Liberation Workshops she’s leading at the Relating Arts Tent on Friday and Saturday. She will offer us a potent preview experience, a guided ‘release’ practice at the French Broad River.

Practicing the Presence of People — Aline Defiglia and Mike Morrell
Jesus-followers have a time-honored habit of the heart that we call Practicing the Presence of God. In this way of being, we’re seeking to extend our awareness beyond our usual confined perception, radiating outward beyond the mechanical thinking and impulses that drive so many of our moments, limiting what we’re even aware of. When we practice God’s presence, we take in more beauty, more pain, more awe, more feeling; more astonishment, more clarity, more mystery. We become alive to God all around us, breathing through us, in us – some mystics even say, ‘as us.’ As Meister Eckhart once remarked, “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” Holding this daring possibility in our hearts, this session invites you to consider the other half of Jesus’ Great Commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself. The phrase – “one another” shows up over 110 times in the New Testament. Through interactive relational ‘games’, we will practice the loving presence of ourselves and of each other. Sometimes creating profound connection is as easy as looking just beneath the surface with whoever you are with. Come play with the simple and profound art of learning how to truly be with another, as you are.

Real-ized Faith: Awakening Conscience and Consciousness -— Heiwa no Bushi
His Sacred Humanness, the Rev. Dr. Heiwa no Bushi delivers a devastating logic upon the mysteries of Christ Consciousness, and how deepening one’s practice can reveal the “mind of Christ.” For too long Christianity has been ambivalent regarding many of the world’s greatest virtues and vices, such as peacemaking and war. Heiwa speaks the deep wisdoms of our attachments, and the destructive effects of the deeply-held pursuits of money, fame, beauty, etc., and how these rival true faith. By touching deeply our true human nature, we turn our vices of attachment into true virtue.

This is Not a Test. This is an Invitation! — Carmen d. Player
We have been conditioned by religious and secular dogma to believe that the adversity we face has been sent to us by a God who wants to test what we are made of. Because of this, we often focus on “passing or failing” the test. Our conditioning leads us to believe that ‘failure’ is connected to deficiencies in our character or our will, instead of an invitation to introspection. 

Personal experience and learnings from providing spiritual counsel has led Rev. Carmen d. Player to believe that our souls create, call forth, and attract experiences to invite us to look at ourselves, our mentalities, and spiritual practices. These experiences lead us to examine our beliefs about ourselves, people in our lives, our society, and our world. Adversity provides us with a window and a mirror. We can see outside of ourselves — the impact of our beliefs and agreements individually and collectively — to see ourselves. 

The invitations of Spirit also help us see just how far we have come in our spiritual walk. At times we are given BLESSons as benchmarks of growth. Here we can live in the place of “not where I want to be, but not where I used to be.” If we take a step to the left, seeing challenges as invitations, we are able to extend grace to grow and evolve to ourselves and others. 

This is not a Test. This is an Invitation offers participants the opportunity to reclaim agency in challenging situations by embracing the BLESSons that Spirit is offering to us. This interactive workshop will include a series of guided questions, activities, and dyads and triads to process with peers. 

The NeuroTheology of Community: Proximity is not a Prerequisite for Connection. — Jerome Lubbe
The pandemic dynamically changed, for many of us, our experience of community, proximity and connection. Join Dr. Jerome as he discusses how the brain experiences relationships and why this knowledge can ultimately change our interactions with the world around us. In this presentation we will learn what it means to understand our relative relationship with self, those closest to us, the larger community we cultivate and those we consider strangers or outsiders. Join us as we navigate the landscape of our relationships and discover that proximity is not a prerequisite for connection; learn the practical steps for cultivating health in ourselves and our communities.

Root to Crown: Presenc(e)ing, Self-Connection, and Resilience in the Technopatriarchal Paradigm — Simona Chitescu Weik
In this part-talk, part-practice session, we will explore the seven-chakra system as an entrance point into our (em)bodied interiority. Through developing a fluency with these psychic-energetic centers, we can gain awareness of our subtle (or energetic) body and its capacity to expand past perceived boundaries, existing fluidly in time/space while healing through pleasure and communion. Inside this cocoon of self-connection that forms as these gates align we are not isolated, but more permeable to and permeating of the entire matrix of creation, sensitive to its fluctuations and our place in it. Committing ourselves to this interior work within a culture that commodifies the human person and capitalizes on our disembodiment is subversive. It creates new consciousness — packets of energy (to borrow a term from Cynthia Bourgeault) that we then can effortlessly transmit (in)to the world in the form of compassion, curiosity, openness, and hope. 

Experiencing Transmutation Through Personal Narrative – Jasmin Pittman Morrell
What new ways of being have emerged in us as we’ve navigated a global pandemic? We all have stories of the losses that will continue to shape us for years to come, as well as finding joy in unlikely places. Many of us have experienced isolation, separation, and the medicine of that elusive-but-enduring collective: community. 

Through time in contemplation, writing prompts, and storytelling, Jasmin will invite you to consider the places in your life where community has been extinguished, re-born, or changed forever. Together, we’ll explore shared spaces of transformation.

Check In for pre-festival events will be available on Wednesday from 1 pm to 5 pm, and Thursday from 7am to 9 am.
If you’re tent camping, there’s no additional campsite charge for Wednesday night.
Some campsite locations are restricted due to large venue tent construction in several areas.
RV campers will need to purchase an additional night.

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