Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
Christian Retreats have been a significant part of my ministry since 1985. I enjoy helping participants enter the sanctuary of self to reflect on what is already there and to find a more intimate connection with God. My approach is "holistic" and is always respectful of "where people are." My tools include imagery, meditation and journaling. My method is personal, experiential, inclusive and flexible; when possible, I include small group work, creative play (ranging from art work to dance) and "alone time" as part of each retreat. Some of the themes with which I have worked most closely are Archetypal Themes, Biblical Themes and Spiritual Themes. I am always willing to explore new topics and enjoy the challenge of accommodating each group; recent retreats include "Embracing Eco-Spirituality," "The Art of Sacred Listening" and "Avoiding the Maze, Embracing the Labyrinth."
I offer a variety of formats to meet a variety of needs. Though on occasion I offer week long experiences, my present schedule allows for the following kinds of retreats:
* All day Saturday retreats involving presentations and small group work. Preferably within driving distance of Chicago or with a "Friday overnight" included.
* Parish Missions: a retreat meeting on 3-4 consecutive evenings. Chicago-area only.
* Preached Retreats: a format for parishes. Basically, I present the same topic at each of the weekend liturgies, sometimes offering an additional Saturday afternoon workshop. Preferably in the Chicago area, but I would also be willing to fly out on a Friday, returning Sunday afternoon, if my schedule allows.
* Private Retreats: I am willing to meet with individuals or groups who have special interests and want a retreat experience which reflects these interests.
* Weekend Retreats: Scheduled Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, these retreats are perfect for retreat houses or private groups. I will travel provided my transportation/ accommodation is covered, in addition to my stipend requirements.
* Retreats by Phone: I'm available for individual or group retreats by telephone; retreats can be tailor-made to suit your needs or else can follow a set format. I am willing to work with your schedule and budget, so do let me know what you are looking for and I can send you a proposal. If you have a few friends who are interested in the same topic, I can give you a cheaper rate than I would for a private retreat. Retreats can be as short as a morning of reflection or as long as a week; group retreats are made possible through my conference service -- all you need is a landline or a cell phone!
EXAMPLES OF SPIRITUAL THEMES
Spirituality and Ecological Conversion Drawing on Pope Francis' Encyclical, Laudato Si' and my book, Preaching and Teaching Laudato Si', this retreat explores a Creation-based spirituality that helps participants 1) experience God in Creation 2) examine their own relationship to the Earth 3) find ways of living more sustainably.
Journey Towards Wholeness: Connecting Body-Mind-Spirit This retreat demonstrates the inter-connectedness of physical health with emotional and spiritual issues. Participants evaluate their own healthiness, learn holistic strategies for increasing health, and sign a contract with themselves, pledging to make the changes which will ensure a better quality of life.
Opening Doors to God, Self, and Others Using the image of the "door" as a threshold into new spiritual consciousness, retreatants examine doors that may be closed in their own lives.
Mysticism and Contemporary Spirituality This retreat illustrates the classical mystical path which involves the Dark Night, Illumination and Union. Drawing on the writings of Christian mystics as well as on the writings on mystics from other faith traditions, participants discover the rich spiritual legacy of those who have dared enter the waiting heart of God. The premise behind this retreat is that everyone is called to be a mystic.
Images of God, Self, and Community Our images of God, self, and others affect all our relationships. This retreat offers the opportunity to examine the images we currently hold and those we have held in the past. We explore the ways in which imagery and language shape consciousness and move toward new ways of imaging and naming the human and the divine.
Wine, Passion and Transformation The absence of passion in our lives and in the institutional church is a spiritual drain; it also alienates those who are searching for a meaningful religious experience. Through this retreat, participants assess their own passionate commitment to life and see where the gospel may be calling them.
Re-Constructing the Shattered Circle: Thoughts on Healing the Self This retreat is for those who are experiencing profound losses, whether through death, illness, divorce, career loss etc. We examine the ways in which we have been shattered and explore strategies for healing. This retreat is best offered to groups of under 25 participants.
EXAMPLES OF ARCHETYPAL THEMES
The Hero Quest and the Christian Journey: the Call to Spiritual Adventuring This retreat follows the six stages of the archetypal hero journey, demonstrating how each of these stages is relevant to Christian spirituality. The six stages are: The Call to Adventure, The Threshold of Adventure, The Road of Trials, Guides Along the Way, The Sacred Marriage or At-One-Ment, and The Return. We will use biblical and mythical examples of each stage, examining the wisdom to be learned at each turn of the road. This is one of my most popular retreats as it offers a practical path to transformation.
In the Belly of the Great Fish: Descent into Darkness & into Transformation Drawing on the story of Jonah as well as the fairy tale, Pinocchio, participants will explore their own seasons of darkness and the necessity for entering this purifying darkness. The willfulness that sets us on a disaster course and the redemptive experience of being entombed will be the main topics of interest.
From Bondage to Liberation: from Egypt to the Promised Land Here we will explore all those issues and circumstances which place us in "Egypt," that place of enslavement. Using the Exodus story as a paradigm of liberation, we will examine what the biblical record has to say about real freedom, about the path out of slavery, about the need for desert wanderings and, finally, about entering the Promised Land. We will see how all the symbols in the narrative reflect some part of our own experience. Ideal as a Lenten retreat.
Healing the Inner Child: Recovering Paradise Lost So many of our adult characteristics are grounded in childhood experiences. The archetypal child --that source of creative energy, spontaneity, and innocence within ourselves-- is often left behind as we move into adulthood, much to our spiritual, emotional and physical detriment. This retreat offers the opportunity to re-connect with the child within so that we can be more fully alive; it also provides a safe space to examine the hurts of childhood so we can find healing.
The Different Faces of Eve: a Retreat for Women in Search of Themselves By focusing on the masks that women have been forced to wear, we will begin to peel away our attempts to conform to others' expectations. In this way, we will discover the selves hiding behind these masks and will develop strategies for allowing these selves to develop fully. This is a retreat about authenticity and empowerment.
Dream Quest Participants will learn the basics of Jungian dream interpretation as well as how to use their dreams as a source of spiritual wisdom. Imagery and creative play will be part of this experience. Ideally, the time frame will allow some hours of silence in which to ask for and possibly receive a dream of significance.
EXAMPLES OF BIBLICAL THEMES
Prayer, Scripture, and Imagery
This retreat encourages participants to enter scriptural narratives through various imagery techniques and then to explore the "meaning" of each text through discussion and contemplative prayer.
Praying With the Psalms Using Walter Brueggeman's classification of the Psalms according to orientation-disorientation-reorientation, participants evaluate where they themselves are, spiritually speaking, and how to pray with psalms at each stage of life.
The Advent Journey Through Poetry and Prose Drawing on the texts of Advent, participants learn how to craft poems and short stories around biblical themes and symbols.
Keeping Lent Through Poetry and Prose Drawing on the texts of the Lenten season, participants write poems and short stories in response to the biblical narratives.
Queen's Retreat House, Saskatoon, Canada; The St. Charles Center, Lake Charles, LA; Kordes Enrichment Center, IN; St. John the Evangelist Parish, Streamwood, IL; Holy Rosary Catholic Community, WI; St. Scholastica Monastery, Duluth, MN; US Airforce Base, Aviano, ITALY; The Warrenville Cenacle, IL; St. Isadora's Parish, Schaumburg, IL; The Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, IL (LSTC); Mundelein College, Chicago, IL; Gethsemani Abbey, KY; St. Christopher Parish, Indianapolis, IN; Pallotti Retreat House, WI; Our Lady of the Mountains, Sierra Vista, AZ; The Center for Development in Ministry (CDM), Mundelein, IL; The Benedictine Spirituality Center, Sacred Heart Monastery, Richardton, ND and more......
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