The Abbey North Gathering


  • Day One

July 16, 2007 This gathering at Abbey North in northern Ontario marks the eighth in a series of such formal dialogue, beginning in the year 2000, about who and what is the Order and what form it will take in the next 5 years, 10 years and 30 years (what we are becoming). The work of this gathering will be a continuation of the products formulated in Denver in April 2007, which is now posted on the Portal, electronically. Instructions: To get there, go to You have arrived at a page with a list of websites. Click on OE, ICA Repository. You have arrived at a page that says “Welcome to the OE, ICA Repository.” On the left hand side of that page you will find a list of links. Click on . You have arrived at a page called “Topic Categories.” The very top one is “The order ecumenical.” Click on its sub-category “conversations about the future of the order.” On the page that opens, if you scroll down, you will see both “Springboard: the Denver Event” and Springboard: The Abbey North Event.” To get to the reports from this meeting there is a link under Abbey North where you can read a report and send back your own comments.

The Abbey is an amazing place! It features 250 acres--8 buildings—and wireless! It is solar powered. There is also a view of the lake, a stone fireplace and a small pool. There are 21 people here around the table in the upstairs collegium room. Around the table are: John and Thea Patterson, David and Burna Dunn, Judy and Jim Weigel, George Walters, David Scott, Jack and Judy Gilles, Jeanne Watts, Jan Sanders and Richard Sims, Roxana and Gordon Harper, Pat Webb and David McClesky, Bill and Nancy Grow, OliveAnn Slotta and Terry Bergdall. Participants shared signal points of their recent engagement. Many comments succinctly described threatening realities. This first half of Monday was summarized by the statement “something dramatic is being required of us and we don’t know what it is.” The conversation turned to the “other side of the coin,” the many comments describing exciting examples of renaissance work in the world. A comment in summary was: “We are headed toward an awe-full precipice while all of this creativity is going on and not reported by the media.” The question we were left with in the morning was how to share all of our experiential wisdom.

This afternoon, we were awed by reports from John and Thea Patterson on their journey toward the creation of this wonderful space and by Jan Sanders about her work with the three nations of Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya and the reconciliation happening there. We finally proceeded to consider the important four arenas identified in Denver in April. They are: a 1) five year vision, 2) the virtual repository (a way to access our wisdom), 3) vocational guilds (arenas of vocational engagement), and 4) diaspora wisdom (capturing the experiences of living in dispersion). An emerging image of the order’s future work that was suggested at the end of the day was “Digital Monasticism.”

Written and submitted by OliveAnn Slotta and Bill Grow
  • Day Two


Invocation: The Beings of the Future by Deborah Prokipchuk Ackley From her 2007 book, Born of Silence

Come, all you beings of the unspun weave the spark of the not yet the unfolding dream of all that is still possible.

Come, all you beings waiting to be born Come Come, be with us.

We take up this work now A legacy from us to you.

We hold you in our hearts and dreams You, who have no name or face or body or shape.

Yet we feel you as the unfinished force inside us dancing Life forward.

So we carry you faithfully in a pocket of heartsoul.

We carry you in fidelity to your claim to be and birth the unfinished web of Life.

What do we need to walk away with? (from this gathering) [July 17 Morning Session]

We are becoming:: A source for contentless spirit methods that empower people in their vocations. A college of care People who can apply spirit methods to any content situation in any organization or network The order of the earth People who have internalized a posture of non-defensive maneuverability and can transmit it to others Moving slowly toward a “covenant” Organized to set up what we will be completing in our next lifetime A network order

Report 1.) Entry Points and Order Virtual Academy

We began by referencing George Walters’ image on Building the Earth in multiple ways. Bump strategy different ways to bump into new people and begin to engage them into Building the Earth Ways of becoming familiar with the Order of Becoming. - Virtual Portal, Part of a way side inn, Create fields of energy. - Way-side Inn is place to be grounded locally and globalling, getting a vision out, - Providing ways of engagement, and an invitation of dropping into this area. We might invite old colleagues and those with whom we have been working Jim and Judy have done a mobile wayside inn. North Abbey is another manifestation. Each wayside inn would have a symbol.

Illustration: the journey from ‘Buildng the Earth’ to care for those who care.

Hunks of Spirit Curriculum From the past…original work and adaptations etc. • Other World • New Religious Mode • Odyssey • Profound Humanness • Priory Materials updated (Marilyn—is this what you are working on) • Singing • News/scripture conversation; discerning where God is moving • New Work in the Spirit Development—enabling people to stand ‘A beginning list’ • Artistic Expression—drama, dance, art forms, poetry • Books - from historical past and new readings • Physical dynamics—exercise, yoga, tai chi • Work of Larry Ward and Peggy Rowe – Buddhist Retreat • Silence Work of David McCleskey and Pat Webb • Depth work from the three wells east, south, west • First Nations practices • Healing • Social Artistry

Future Actions:

1) Collect work of colleagues in spirit methods and developing spirit journey masters 2) Experiments are being done with ‘way-side-inn’ i.e. Abbey North, Songaia 3) Have a group explore/experiment with a curriculum for ‘caring for those who care’. 4) Pull together work on past and future rituals.

Group 2.) Research Assembly Two hours of conversation which focused on 3 separate notions? : 1. Each of us to do conversations / interviews with sensitive and responsive folks we are connected to or are in our local situations to find out what is really going on and to gather data on what it would take to care for those who care in those situations 2. Prepare a framework for research “thinktank” assemblies or gatherings to figure out what is really going on globally (or locally, nationally)– with an emphasis on involving people (and wisdom) from different sectors or disciplines (government, education, health, faith, business, environment, etc.) who do not really understand each other’s sector. Within each sector, people operating out of different “value systems” would intentionally be invited. Of course we would initially focus initially on “us.” 3. Continue and refine the process of collecting stories and wisdom of the past so it is out and down for us to consider and reflect upon.

We did not come to a common recommendation. It occurred to us that we are in danger of losing our ability to connect (through patiently listening to each other) with one another (which we treasure) and need some structures that make us more available to one another to rebuild these connections among us.

We also had a significant conversation on social strife and conflict – whether around immigration reform, social divisiveness and racism in towns like York PA, or Uptown Chicago, Illinois, or outright conflict such as in Cyprus or the Middle East and bordered on declaring this as the central question of research for the near future.

Report 3,) Virtual Portal for guild Formation “Those who care whom we support” Ask present people involved to help us Invitation to second generation and people we have met along the way Will demonstrate “education” as our first portal • What is a guild • Who is in a guild • How does a guild come into being? • What historical guild wisdom must we collect? • What is our Diaspora experience with guild dynamic? • What is a journey of a guild person? • What are spirit, intellectual social methods for a guild? • What is the “guild story?”

These are the Master Portals: Health, Education, Law & Justice, The Arts, Communications/media, Environment, Development (human settlement), Inter-faith, Business/Commerce, Governance

Song: I’m a Digitorian short and stout. I know what “virtual” is all about Just ask me any question long or shot, And I’ll connect you to the formation port.

Report 4.) FACES of the REPOSITORY Repository preceded the formation of this group and what are the new faces of the repository? The seven faces of the repository which we broke into four: 1.) library (current living library of past and what we are doing), 2.) thinktank,(how are we going to harvest our learnings? Multiple small groups meeting and linking virtually) wisdom sharing process. 3.) hotline,(commit ourselves to responding to questions from those who are asking for some form of technical help and also doing some tutorials) 4.) personal page (Everyone wants to tell stories and what need to now is what people are doing in brief. Look at David McClesky’s page – expanded page in what programs, arena’s of edge thinking, networks you have connections).

Report 5.) GATHERINGS and Practices We operated out of a global image. We considered the number of times a year that seemed right for the gathering of us and others on the list. Instead of going back to 2001 just take this as our starting point. Then maybe meet every four months. George is putting up a rhythm of this. A global event might happen in a year or two Denver, Abbey, Mexico - flexibility is our password. What does this look like this fall?

DAILY TOOLS Read from Courage to Lead at breakfast The Journal: John Cock reflections Earthrise Charting the Day Journal

Minimal Simple Declaration We actually wrote the following first draft of a declaration after looking at our original work in the 60’s

A Declaration of the Order [ This was edited on Day Three] We the people of the Springboard gatherings, in order to care for all beings engaged in the unfolding dream of a healthy and peaceful planet, will gather together (either physically or remotely) on a regular basis to: • Carry forward the legacy inherent in the deep experiences of IE. OE. And ICA • Share innovative and sustaining socio-economic and spirit methods with those who Care • Maintain regular interchange to inform our mission • Make ourselves available as needed to build models, and do programs or projects through an electronic assignment board • Nurture the emergence of comprehensive, story-based symbols and rituals

DAY THREE Group Reflection on Reports from Day Two: What stands out from the reports yesterday? 1. Covenant draft 2 2. 4 images 3. Spiritual practices identification 4. Virtual abbey mechanism “bump me up” 5. Guild paragraph description 6. Education guild documentation 7. Small groups model for wisdom sharing 8. Conversations with others on the list 9. World-state-research gathering mechanism 10. Books for common mind

-- Jean Watts, Reporter

* Final Reports

On our concluding morning, since people were leaving at different times, we decided to spend the time we had (until 11 o'clock) reflecting as a total group. No further small group work was done, but we confirmed the proposal to meet again in November, and individuals and small teams picked up a number of follow-on tasks. We started with Pat Webb leading us in a meditative writing exercise ("In the Silence") and a ritual from 1967 that anticipated our celebration in the year 2007. We shared thoughts on what this meeting had been and might lead to, as well as our amazement at how people were able to remotely participate real time through Skype. We wrote some individual closing comments on Thea Patterson's computer and we went around the group to hear what next steps each person present intended to take. This in the midst of lots of hugs, directions and packing of bags.

We never had a chance to pull together everyone's concluding comments. What follows is a collection of items awaiting inclusion in a final summary report on the event at Abbey North. As more of these materials become available, they will be added here.

We did decide that this would be the beginning of such a report: _A diverse group of individuals who share a common experience and memory from their time with the Order: Ecumenical gathered over July 16-18 at the home of John and Thea Patterson in Haliburton, Ontario. The Patterson home, Abbey North, served the group as a marvelous retreat center. The group dialogued with one another once again over what the Mystery is calling Those Who Care to be about in the world today, and what responding to that call might concretely look like._

A few comments people left onThea's Computer:

I resonated with the dialogue between Jan Sanders and Jack Gilles as a capsule of this whole gathering here in Abbey North. Jan was feeling very engaged and not isolated in a desert. Jack expressed the feeling of isolation in a desert and need for a bond like the one we had in the Order Ecumenical. My experience is that of both poles of this polarity. Some days, most days, I’m so fully engaged I couldn’t possibly do one thing more. On a few days each week I feel isolated, alone and wonder if I have a single colleague to nurture me or work closely with. On the “engaged” (Jan type days) what’s missing from my life is time and place in which to pause, get distance, reflect and share with others what I’m thinking and doing. On those days I ask myself two questions: 1) What are my priorities in what I’m doing? and 2) How much time each week do I really have to do any kind of Springboard type work and can I carve out that time along with work, family and other commitments? On the “scattered” (Jack type days) what’s missing from my life is a historically bonded community worldwide with similarly engaged people? So I am asking myself here at Abbey North only one question: What do I really need to take home from here today? My usual processing of an avalanche of data like we’ve experience these three days is at least an overnight if not weeks. But this is my reflection in the few minutes we had of silence this morning.

-- David McCleskey

I am clear that the profound function of these gatherings is to re-collect and re-member ourselves for the sake of both past, future and the precious NOW and that no one has a single definition of how this is best done. So, the meetings are messy, outcomes are a little unclear, and yet we are feeling our way.

A common story about the needs of our times, our role, and our surrender to Final Mystery is important to the future of the collective body. Image is still key. So are spirit practices. So is engagement and the ability to talk clearly about what is learned in engagement.

We need new, fresh methods of talking with each other, observing silence, playing together, sharing our work breakthroughs, and helping each other. We also need to recapture and update old methods, many of which are still valid.

Face to face, small group work in local areas needs to combined with these larger meetings if we are to deepen and broaden our effort.

Reflecting right now on my own reflection, I realize that I just don’t have any language for what happens to me as we gather. I deeply know that our work of 40 years ago is not finished, and that we as a body are not finished. I trust that the rest is to be revealed and I am here because of that trust and my love and gratitude for being here. The Order and I are one.

-- Patricia Webb

Those with a Common Memory gathered to share stories, sing together, and to ask questions. The questions I heard were: What do we have to offer? Why do we need to be linked and how? Who is this for?

The basic question I heard was, ‘How do we sustain ourselves and our families, our friends and colleagues, in our current engagements, and particularly, how do we sustain those who are carrying huge loads of the world’s pain on their shoulders in the tasks they have undertaken’?

The foundational image I am left with is that we need to be engaged in a concrete task of caring for the world as this enables us to reflect, harvest old wisdom, and to refine and apply our learning to new situations going forward.

-- Thea Patterson

What Happened: • We learned that Caring for Those Who Care (CTWC) is being done superbly by the Pattersons in their relationship with neighbors, missional engagement in Africa and other places and through the space they have created at Abbey North. In other words, we were immersed in a demonstration of our work. • We experienced the blessing of being the Gathered Ones and the glory of being the Scattered Ones. • We discovered that the task we started so many years ago and the one emerging for the sake of the future is indeed a continuum.

What Others Need to Hear: • There is “hard nosed” practical work that needs to be done; form to the Guild, Interchange processes, Expanded participation and Insightful and accessible documentation. • There is a covenantal connectivity that is strong – yet at the same time open. In other words, the rule of the Order is still unwritten but understood. • The world needs our work and collective wisdom in enabling the emergence of Spirit Giants in all structures of society. There is a niche we can fill that is critical.

What Imagery Captured the Event: • The Abbey – We know one of the forms we envisioned when we spoke of “The Third Campaign”. • The Silence – It is the essence through which we will come to know our ‘becoming’. • The Guild – We are in the process of giving form to the profound instrument/structure that will enable Spirit to be brought into an applied way in world and enable the effectiveness of the vocated ones, TWC.

What is Foundational: • We are learning the power of Presence (Profound Humanness) and it is our embodiment of Effulgence. • We continue to be representational – our lives are “on behalf of” and we are what we are calling others to be. • We understand in a very profound way, we are always Becoming.

-- Jack Gilles

One of the small groups that had worked on a Declaration presented their revised version:

toward A Declaration of the Order

We the people of the Springboard gatherings, in order to care for all beings engaged in the unfolding dream of a healthy and peaceful planet, will gather together (both physically and remotely) on a regular basis to:

• carry forward and grow the legacy inherent in the deep experiences of EI, OE and ICA

• share innovative and sustaining socio-economic and spirit methods with Those Who Care

• maintain regular interchange to inform our mission(s)

• make ourselves available as needed to build models, and do programs or projects through and our personal pages

• nurture the emergence of comprehensive, story-based symbols and rituals

• encourage and build our ability to care for those who care within this order and beyond.

Another small group created a place on the Repository where people can share spirit practices and rituals they are currently finding helpful in sustaining them. You can find their work here:

Further reflections and reports will be added as they are forthcoming.

For sample audio (group singing), video and selected photos from this event:

-- GordonHarper - 25 Oct 2007
Topic revision: r3 - 18 Dec 2007, DavidDunn
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