Cascadia: Program Overview

CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL is a school without walls. Much of the program is completed through online and videoconference interaction with Dr. Benner and the other mentors/teachers. It is also a school without limits in that the program has no fixed length. Although the cycle of readings and focus of retreats makes multi-year participation ideal, participants enrol one year at a time and continue for as long as they find helpful. The program year runs from April 1 to March 31.

The core of the program is the small-group mentoring of participants. This begins within the daily online interaction that starts each April and continues until the end of the subsequent March. Suggested readings and challenges in living the things being taught form the foundation of this dialogue. This is supplemented by periodic videoconferences and the retreats. Please note, however, that while the program offers a great deal of personal interaction with the mentors/teachers, one-on-one time should not be expected with them at the retreats. All mentoring is provided within the context of small groups.

The annual retreats held in Toronto are exclusively available to those enrolled in the Residential Program. They are built around the classic Christian disciplines of contemplative prayer, lectio divina, and silence, and are ordered by the framework of the Benedictine Daily Office. Retreats also include a fast from phones and all internet-accessing technology (with a built-in exception of a scheduled brief time each day when this can, if necessary, occur). Mornings are generally more conceptual, afternoons more experiential and evenings more contemplative. These strands, however, are continuously interwoven in the flow of each retreat day.

Applicants to CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL should possess psychological and spiritual maturity and motivation to live their way into wisdom, wholeness and well being. They must also have basic computer skills and an email account, an established contemplative practice, and a spirituality that leads to engagement with the needs of the world. Those who are new to contemplative living will benefit from first receiving an introduction to contemplative practices and the way in which they involve living from the heart. One way of acquiring this foundation for those in the USA Pacific Northwest is the one-year, Living from the Heart program of the Selah Center in Seattle but other similar programs are available to help you cultivate the contemplative ways of knowing that are foundational to accessing and living wisdom. Contact us if you are having trouble identifying ways to acquire this preparation.

Ideas and practices explored within the CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL will push most applicants intellectually, theologically, and spiritually. In order to really understand wholeness, transformation and love we will be drawing insights from such sources as evolutionary theology, cosmology, other faith traditions, and depth psychology. While prior background in these areas is not necessary for participants, what is required is openness to the contributions science and other religious traditions can make to Christian theology, spirituality and wisdom.