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October 2013  
Vol 5 Issue 12

Practicing Month to Month

Dear friends,


As you know our rector, Anna Greenwood-Lee is on Sabbath Rest until November 15.  In the side column is information about which clergy will be taking services during the month of October.  Thank you to Don McLeod, Bob Pynn, Tara Livingston and Vic Cabel for their extra help with Sunday services, spiritual development and pastoral care during Anna's time away!  


This program year at St. Laurence we are looking at music as a spiritual practice. Our reflection this month is on the ancient practice of chanting and comes from Geri Urch, who follows a contemplative path. Geri's reflection comes from her heart and is truly a gift to us.
As Geri describes, chanting can bring us to stillness enabling us to hear silent words of God spoken in our hearts.  You are welcome to try this practice with other members of St. Laurence, at our centering prayer services on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.  The chants we use are simple, repetitive and hence easy to learn.
Geri's reflection invite us to play with chant in the privacy of our homes, vehicles and mountain paths where no one but God hears us.  Have some fun experimenting and relax into God by  chanting a psalm or making up your own chant.  Use this time  honoured practice to "Sing a new song to Yahweh".  (Psalm 96:1)  




Carolyn Herold


Geri Urch on Chanting as a Spiritual Practice


Listen, listen wait in silence listening, for the One from whom all mercy flows.            Psalm 130


As I ready myself to sit on my prayer stool, I quietly chant words that slow my body and mind down and ready me for the silence I am about to enter. I feel my breath go deeper, to where the vibration of the chant is centred.


This is the form of chanting I am familiar with and will write about in this article, though there are many others including Gregorian chant and Taize.


It is interesting that this practice of chanting prior to meditation came to me naturally out of attending contemplative worship services. But with a smile I now read Cynthia Bourgeault's words regarding group chanting what are referred to as "Songs of the Presence":   "As the group begins to center its energy in the heart, an attunement emerges that expresses itself both outwardly in the beauty of the music and inwardly in the suppleness of the spirit. In this state, both prayer and meditation flow far more easily." Such chants "point the way toward those silent depths that lie beneath the surface structure of the mind". Susan Cooper of Fire and Grace Contemplative Groups writes that this chanting is not meant to stir the emotions or the intellect, but to quiet them. It is then possible to let go of the task of singing and let the sound itself "carry us" deeper into stillness.


While staying at a Buddhist Temple in Hawaii I met a woman, Shanti Shivani, who provided another reason why chanting provides a natural entry point into stillness. She studied and performed Hindustani chanting and also calls it Nada yoga - sound yoga. She talked to me about how in this form of chanting you go deeply into your body's centre. Interestingly, in her book Cynthia suggests that chanting is "a kind of yoga, producing definite changes in the subtle energetic structure of the being". The yoga of Christian spiritual practices!


I want to quickly write about another form of chanting that has recently re-entered my life. I am attending St Andrew's, Kelowna where each Sunday the congregation chants the full psalm. Cynthia writes that including untrained singers fully allows them to experience "the transformational alchemy of psalmody which occurs when the words and images are actually 'ingested' through the act of singing". I have found it a wonderful spiritual experience. I am embracing it wholeheartedly, and supporting it by immersing myself in Chanting the Psalms and using the CD provided with the book. (This book with CD is available in St Laurence's library, and I invite you to read/chant it.)


And finally, there is nothing like chanting as I drive through God's mountains in their magnificence and strength on my way back home.










October at St. Laurence

Tuesday, October 1

7:30 pm Book Study on the 10 Commandments.

The Rev. Tara Livingston will facilitate. Everyone is welcome.


Thursday, October 3

9:30 am Centering Prayer


Sunday, October 6

10 am Sunday Service.  The Rev. Don McLeod to preach and preside.


Tuesday, October 8

 7:30 pm Book Study on the 10 Commandments.

The Rev. Tara Livingston will facilitate.


Sunday, October 13

10 am Sunday Service

The Very Rev. Robert Pynn to preach and preside.


Thursday, October 17

9:30 a.m. Centering Prayer


Friday, October 18

8:00 pm at B'nai Tikvah

900 - 47 Ave. S.W.

Wisdom Centre event with Rabbi Rami Shapiro


Saturday, October 19

 9:30 am & 2:00 pm at Christ Church, Calgary

3602 - 8 Street S.W.

Wisdom Centre event with Rabbi Rami Shapiro 


Sunday, October 20

10:30 am Sunday Service.

St. Laurence and Christ Church will worship together at Christ Church.

3602 - 8 Street S.W.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro to preach.


Tuesday, October 22

7:30 pm An Introduction to Progressive Christianity; Living the Questions 2.0.

This is the first evening of a 7 week series.  Registration is $15.00 through the Wisdom Centre. www.wisdomcentre.ca

Everyone welcome.  If you wish to come for a few evenings, we are asking for a donation of $3.00 per session at the door.


Sunday, October 27

10 am Sunday Service.

The Rev. Don McLeod to preach and preside.


Tuesday, October 29

 7:30 pm An Introduction to Progressive Christianity; Living the Questions 2.0.