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Incarnation’s joys: cookies and milk

by Nancy Sylvester, IHM

In Global Sisters Report, Dec. 21, 2017

The Christmas season is full of feelings and memories, some delightful and some not so much. At a time in our world when there is so much happening that brings sorrow to our hearts, it is important to pause and to contemplate the everyday incarnations that appear in our lives.


Matthew’s Gospel begins with the naming of all of Jesus’ (male) ancestors, establishing his lineage. It lets us know whose tribe he belonged to, how his family developed through the years. Now, if your grandparents were born in Eastern Europe, as mine were, you may not be able to trace your family back that many generations. Instead, you confer with your living relatives and try to piece together family heritage and family stories.  Read More

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Welcome to ICCD

If you’ve come to this website because you too are in search of new ways to bring about change, permit me to introduce you to this site and the mission and work of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. Founded in 2002, ICCD seeks new ways of engaging the impasse that many persons experience as they struggle to bring about systemic change in societal and ecclesial arenas. Since its beginning ICCD has recognized that all the usual ways of addressing such “no way out situations” are inadequate. ICCD believes that the only way to address these situations is to bring them to the deep inner resources of contemplation. ICCD believes we are living in a critical time for the evolution of our planet—a chaos point where breakdown or breakthrough occurs. ICCD’s work has brought hundreds of people to a new understanding of how to be and act in responding to the growing injustices within our world. On this site you will find a rich library of reflections on key areas helpful to your work of transformation. I’d invite you to click on the tabs Contemplation, Impasse, Dialogue, Reflections and Readings. When you do you will find a number of short reflections under each of those areas. Those you will want to click on as well. All the reflections have a picture and some poetry to enhance your personal reflection on the topic. At the end of a reflection there is often an annotated bibliography for your use. Some of the reflection under are also in Spanish and French. You will find the Spanish and French words “Impasse” and “Dialogue” linked.  Click on each link Under the Contemplation tab you will also see Contemplate This which is the series of articles that I have written for the National Catholic Reporter’s blog: Global Sisters Report. ICCD’s initial program, Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue®  invited participants to look at impasse from the perspective of communal contemplation and dialogue and to imagine another way of being and doing. Evolving from those experiences, the focus for ICCD’s second decade is Exercising Contemplative Power (ECP). Continuing the work of the engaging impasse process we now provide opportunities, processes and reflections so as to accelerate the growth in consciousness needed for transformation through a process of communal contemplation and dialogue. Click on the Exercising Contemplative Power tab and you will find a series of reflections on justice issues from the perspective of ECP as well as a summary of the first ECP conference. We were joined by Cynthia Bourgeault for the 2013 or second ECP conference. Under this tab you will be able to download the major presentations for a very small fee. Another way in which we exercise contemplative power is the ICCD Contemplative Sitting Network. We are growing an international community of those willing to commit to sit in contemplation for 20 minutes daily between 6:00-7:30 am in whatever time zone you are in. We hope to be present in all time zones focusing our intention for personal, social and ecclesial transformation. Click on the Contemplative Sitting Network tab to read more about it and to join in! ICCD programs include Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue® and Transformation in a Time of Uncertainty. We periodically convene national gatherings to deepen our experience around our key focus. Other programs are tailored to meet the needs of groups interested in engaging impasse, the transformation of consciousness, listening and speaking from a contemplative heart and exercising contemplative power. We know the task of transformation does not happen in isolation. We hope that this web site will be a source of support, enrichment, networking, and creativity for those of us who believe deeply in communal contemplation and dialogue as a way of evolving our consciousness.

We hope you like this website and if you do would you tell your friends. Would you click “Like” on FACEBOOK and ask your friends to do the same.

Nancy Sylvester, IHM Founder and President Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue © 2015 Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue Reprint with permission

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Advent: Where is God present?


Nov. 27, 2017 in Contemplate This

Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time when Christians throughout the world remember that the hope Jesus brought us for a world marked by love, forgiveness, unity and equality is being fulfilled but is not yet.

Advent is a time to create the space to enter more deeply our heart and our soul space to attune ourselves to the manifestations of God throughout the universe and in our everyday lives. It is an openness to wonder how God is revealing God’s self to us today. Read More

Encounter with a Dreamer

Contemplate This  Global Sisters Report  November 1, 2017

On a recent trip to New York City, I met a young woman. Let’s call her Daisy.

We were waiting for the M60 bus, which would take us from LaGuardia Airport to the West Side of Manhattan in about the same time as a cab — and for much less money. As we boarded the crowded bus, we ended up next to each other and began a conversation.

As we talked, I was taken with her lovely smile and calm demeanor. I could tell she would be a good nurse, caring and attentive to those with whom she worked.

Daisy leaves her home in the Bronx at 5 a.m. to board a train and then a bus to get to work on time an hour and a half later. She helps her mother with the day-to-day chores, and I could see she worries about her father, who in his late 50s continues to work in heavy construction. Read More

No Room for Compassion Fatigue

Contemplate This  Global Sisters Report  September 28, 2017

In the mid-’80s Neil Postman wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death, which explored how media affects public discourse. He made the observation that before the telegraph, people found out about tragedies, fires or illness by word of mouth. They felt empowered because they were responding to local situations. They could express their compassion concretely and immediately.

Too little “world” news is ever shown on our nightly world news programs. Few of us are aware of the potential of famine caused by shortages of food and potable water in SomaliaSouth SudanNigeria and Yemen.  Read More

New Resource: Finding Our Balance

Feeling off balance is not uncommon today as we try to adjust to the Trump Administration. There is an urgency to act and to access where we are and why. ICCD is pleased to offer Finding Our Balance in the Political Landscape to assist in this reflection. We hope you will use both the essay and the accompanying 5 Why process guide as way to move forward with your family, friends, and colleagues in the months ahead.

Reflection:  Finding Our Balance in the Political Landscape 

While walking in the desert near Tucson, Arizona, I began climbing a mountain and lost my balance. Instinctively I put out my hand for support from a large shadow looming beside me. Just as my hand landed, I retracted it, realizing that the shadow belonged not to a sturdy tree from which I could gain support but rather to a Saguaro cactus with spiky arms waiting to push away any intruder. Quickly pulling my hand away, I gained firmer footing on the dessert terrain. I grounded myself, attaining balance from the inside out. Read More


Five Whys Process Guide  Click Here

The election of Donald Trump as President and the initial directives of his Administration have done very little to bring us together as a nation. In fact, they have made the divisions among us even more pronounced. As a people we seem to be traveling on separate landscapes which are beginning to move and could be on a collision course.  Read More and the 5 Whys Process by clicking here….

OnthegroundFrom Ecuador to Nigeria; Selma to Vietnam, Catholic sisters engage the world through Gospel values and make countless contributions to human development, including Nancy Sylvester, IHM’s Contemplation: A Call to All On the Ground is a compilation of 23 of the finest reports and columns published during Global Sisters Report’s first year. These stories, written by and about sisters, highlight the diversity of projects and people to which Catholic sisters have dedicated their lives. Through this lens, we learn about solutions to critical issues facing humanity.

Click here to find out more.