A Conversation with Margaret Silf
3 rd February, 10th March, 31 March 2022 7.00 – 9.00pm
$220 (or $750 for the whole series)
Probably throughout the whole course of human consciousness evolution there has been a sense of ‘something coming’. At first it was an inchoate intuition that change and growth is possible, that human beings are not finished yet, but that this potential growth is continually undermined by the forces within and beyond us that work to resist and oppose it.
In the Judaic tradition this intuition crystallised into something rather more ‘definitive’, in the explorations and explanations of the line of prophets and visionaries, often expressed in the hope of the coming of a Messiah who would change everything. More recently and more universally, the possibility of sustained transformation has taken root in soil as varied as so-called ‘new age’ spirituality, eco-awareness, the burgeoning yearning for peace and justice and the voices of poets and artists and every form of creative endeavour.
Is all this just wishful thinking, or is this promise of ‘something more’ embedded in our human spiritual DNA? And if so, where do we find ourselves now?
During these conversations I invite you to explore and share what the hope of spiritual evolution means to you, and how the global experience of ‘meltdown’ during 2020 and beyond has re-shaped you, and all of us, as participants in a planetary community. There are some interesting patterns we might observe in the way change and transformation seem to happen, which will help our conversations to develop.
Evolution happens when there is a problem to be overcome. Problems force us to think outside the box and adapt to often unwelcome circumstances. We might well have pondered theoretically some of the ways by which humanity might be challenged into a new awareness – perhaps in a ‘change or die’ situation such as climate change – but very few of us could have predicted what actually happened in 2020.
There seems to be no way for new beginnings to appear until and unless the old structures collapse. The pandemic has effectively de-constructed many of our assumptions and expectations and left us dismayed to see how our carefully engineered control of our world could so suddenly and dramatically unravel before our eyes, through the force majeure of a tiny virus. Yet in the heart of the breakdown, the seeds of the breakthrough are silently gestating in the dark. Scientists of whom we have never heard, come quietly out of their laboratories to offer tentative new solutions. Neighbours to whom we have hardly spoken, call to ask if we need any help. Teachers find ways of bringing the classroom to the kitchen table, and people who barely knew how to send an email learn to develop sophisticated online learning and support tools. So what is going on in the beating heart of creation, and in the depths of the human spirit in these turbulently creative times?
I began to formulate my thoughts on these conversations on December 21st 2020, the winter solstice, and the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. When two planets pass unusually close to each other, they cause what appears to be an especially bright star to rise in the night sky. This phenomenon has become known as ‘the Star of Bethlehem’, reflecting the possibility that such a planetary conjunction occurred around the timeframe of Jesus’ birth and could perhaps have led to the account of the guiding star in Matthew’s gospel.Whatever the science behind the story, what fascinates me is the word ‘conjunction’. What kinds of unlikely conjunction might be happening in our times? Perhaps the conjunction of breakdown and breakthrough, of heart-break and heart-birth, of the end of who we thought we were and the beginning of all we can become? During these liminal times when our human night seems at its darkest, beset by gross injustice, pandemic, conflict and climate breakdown, radical change walks among us, dressed as crisis. Is this perhaps the very moment when the guiding star is appearing, not just in the heavens, but on planet Earth, breaking and re-shaping our own story and our Earth-story?
Margaret Silf, December 2020
Margaret Silf is a writer and retreat leader and has travelled the world many times over sharing her deep insights and love of spirituality. She is the author of the highly-acclaimed Landmarks: An Ignatian Journey, Taste and See: Adventuring into Prayer, and One Hundred Wisdom Stories and many other books (I have counted up to 25!)
Bernie first met Margaret on the grounds of Castle Loyola, Ignatius’s birthplace, at a conference on the History and practice of the Spiritual Exercises. We clicked immediately and enjoyed many long conversations on our shared passion for Ignatian spirituality. Marlene, Bernie and Margaret have worked together many times over the years since that first encounter, the last being at Kardia in 2018, where Margaret shared with us her reflections on the massive transformation we are experiencing. Little did she know at the time just how much our world would change in 2020. We are delighted to bring Margaret back into our workplace to share her evolving thoughts on the Great Transformation.