From Guest blogger Louis Bélanger
I am from Québec City, Canada, and I organised recently a couple of activities to ‘experience’ in ‘real life’ Teilhard’s writings and ideas.
More on me later below for those interested in knowing more on my ‘démarche’, or ‘approach’, but let’s say I tend to be more on the ‘action’side and thus go to the essential as far as ideas are concerned, even though I am an artist and an intellectual as well (see below). This is why I wrote a ’12 points summary’ essay on Teilhard ideas (see the document appended).
The activities I organised recently were a Cosmic (evolution) walk, and a Noosphere-themed Labyrinth walk. These activities were held during a ‘5 days of Christian prayer’ held in November in Québec City. During the week, more than 50 different groups held 1-hour prayer sessions, in the style of their own spiritual practices. Traditional groups from different Christian denominations coexisted with more ‘far fetched’ spiritual ones. I was of course the one who organised these last! I like to call myself the ‘cosmic churchwarden’ (I am church warden in my own parish).
Some of you might have heard about Cosmic Walks and Labyrinth walks. Here is a quick summary of each activity. Cosmic walk is a walk along a rope disposed in a spiral representing the evolution of the universe (typically a 134 feet rope, so 10 feet correspond to a billion year, and thus 134 feet gives 13,4 billion years (the estimated age of the universe)). The idea is that the walker can ‘live’ the evolution of the universe ‘from inside’. This sound pretty new-agist, isn’t it ? But not really. This activity was initiated by a Dominican sister (Sr. Miriam McGillis).
And she was inspired by ‘eco-theologian’ Thomas Berry, himself a disciple of …Teilhard (here we are with a Teilhard connection!).
Labyrinth walks are walks on a large pattern similar to the one on the floor of Chartres’ Cathedral. In medieval times, pilgrims would walk on this path to replace a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Walking on Labyrinths has been re-introduced in the recent years by Episcopalian priest Lauren Artress, from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco The Labryrinth has a circle shape, and many walkers can simultaneously ‘walk the path’ from outside to the center, and back to the outside. This gave me the idea that this circle could be a Noosphere, and that each can walk with its own ‘spiritual’ sphere as a sphere aiming for a coalescence of the sphere, in a true Teilhardist manner. This was my second connection to Teilhard’s ideas.
As far of the Cosmic Walk, the participants were disposed sparsely within the universe evolution path, reinforcing the impression of ‘being part of the evolution phenomenom’. Some ‘cosmic’ music and projected cosmos views videos added to the ambiance.
Both activities went well and were appreciated by most participants. Labyrinths walks tend to be individualistic activities; the idea to walk and try to be aware of its own walking experience and other’s as well is interesting. I sometimes liken Labyrinth walks to silent prayers. Collective silent prayers are then a ‘reunion’ with god and goes to the root of religion (‘religiare’ in latin: to connect together). Cosmic walks were also very much enjoyed. It is however a somewhat vertiginous activity, intellectually and spirituously speaking. Evolution theory poses some important challenges to the.‘litteral’ interpretation of the scriptures (Teilhard could bear witness on this !).
Discussions after each activity were very interesting, both being enhanced by ‘black belt’ teilhardists: the head of the Teilhard circle in Québec city and a Jesuit priest very knowledgeable in Teilhard’s writings.
I am looking forward to repeat the experience, either locally or eventually within the Teilhard project upcoming activities.
[A note about the blog author: My background is scientific, entrepreneur and artistic. First I am an electronic engineer. I also founded a high tech company and ran it for 28 years (company is now under a ‘new management’). I write books (techno-fantasy fictions), poems, songs and do a bit of stand-up comic. On the spirituality side, I am churchwarden at my local parish. My main focus is to try to rejuvenate spiritual practices. Labyrinth and cosmic walks interest comes from this, as well as my interest toward Teilhard’s writings.]
“The spirituality of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
a 12-point summary essay”
by Louis Bélanger
Teilhard articulated the concepts of a renewed Christian spirituality, more adapted to our time and the 21st century, where there is no opposition between the Catholic faith and modern science, among other things. This spirituality synthesizes and connects modern scientific knowledge (including the theory of evolution and new understandings of the universe) with Christian principles in an evolutionist, spiritualist and positivist perspective. In other words, Teilhard has redesigned for the modern Christian a cosmology (i.e., an understanding of the cosmos and our universe, and our place within it as an individual) ‘which stands’, allowing us to look at and to appropriate the world with a positive and enthusiastic Christian approach.
The main principles of Teilhard in 12 points:
1- Modern science and Christian religion do not oppose. We can reconcile them by reinterpreting the great notions of Christianity, and by completely respecting their spirit.
2- The Universe had a beginning, and converges, evolutionarily, towards an end, which is a meeting of all within God. This evolution was named by Teilhard ‘from Alpha to Omega’, taking up some images and words of the Gospel. This evolution is not necessarily smooth or without dramas, but it is going ‘in the right direction’.
3- The Universe is a source of extraordinary wonder. It is complex, and becomes more complex over time, as the evolution towards the Omega point progresses.
4- The Universe and its evolution are guided by a central force, which can only be called ‘God’.
5- Christ becomes the presence of this force within our beings and even matter. To connect to this force is to connect to Him.
6- The Resurrection of Christ is like taking possession ‘by the spiritual’ of matter and the Universe.
7- This Christ is Universal, ‘Cosmic’ according to Teilhard. He is the Christ-King of the Universe of traditional Christianity.
8- The Eucharist celebrates and symbolizes this presence, and the dominion of the Spirit over matter
9- We live, with our consciousness, such a sphere that can be superimposed or match the other spheres that constitute the others around us (phenomenon called the ‘coalescence of spheres’ by Teilhard). The combination of all these spheres is called the Noosphere.
10- Love, a ‘total’ force, is this force which makes it possible to harmonize and orchestrate this superposition of spheres.
11- Awareness of this harmonization reveals iniquities and injustices, so it becomes natural to want to reduce (or even eliminate) them.
12- The evolution and convergence of all these spheres with those of the Spirit and of God will take us in union with Him, at the point Omega, which can then be related to the end of the times described in the Gospels.