Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dark Radiance: An African/American Online Advent Retreat

Dark Radiance:
An African/American Advent
online retreat
December 1 to December 24, 2015

with option to continue(at no extra charge)
through the 12 days of Christmas
till January 6, 2016

See below the illustration
 for information
and registration.

Henry Ossawa Tanner (African American artist, 1859-1937)
"Angels Appearing before the Shepherds," c. 1910, oil on canvas
(Smithsonian American Art Museum)

Dark Radiance: An African/American Advent is an online spiritual retreat in the Christian tradition, accompanying your daily life during the season of Advent and, if you choose, during the twelve days of Christmas, till January 6, feast of the Epiphany. 
(There is no additional cost for the Christmas portion of the retreat. It's a Christmas present.)
An online retreat enables you to participate at home or any other place where you have a computer or tablet with internet access. You can read, meditate, and pray in a way that suits your schedule. Twenty minutes a day is a nice rhythm, but you can check in less often, or more often, and for a shorter or longer time if you wish. It's up to you. The resources for the retreat will be waiting for you on the retreat site. (More information on the technical aspect of the retreat below.)
Advent is a season of hope and waiting, a season of prophecy and righteous anger, a season of taking the long view. In Advent, we discover both God's patience and God's impatience. Advent wakes us up but also comforts us.
Join us in living and praying mindfully through the season of Advent.

In our online retreat, most (though not all) of our Advent retreat resources (images, music, words of wisdom) will come from African American artists, authors, theologians, communities, and traditions. A few will be from African sources, which is why I have spelled the title "African/American."

Our online retreats have always drawn on diverse resources and traditions. Those of you who participated last year in the Advent retreat Whirlwinds and Waiting may remember that some of our resources --music, art, prayer, social analysis-- were African American. This year we ask even more intentionally:
How can we live the invitation into the season of Advent and the reality of God's Incarnation in a world in a land with a wrenching inheritance of racial divisions and racial injustice? a time when incarceration and violent death devastate so many in African American communities? this era of Black Lives Matter? a nation with rich African American legacies of art, beauty, science and technology, and religion?
Advent challenges us with struggle, suffering, and the prophetic call to do justice. It also blesses us with beauty and comforts us with hope.
I have designed this retreat keeping in mind a story from another context (Christian-Jewish relations) told by Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum and recounted by Krister Stendahl at a conference in 1983. In this story a man asked his neighbor, "Do you know what really hurts me?" "No," came the reply. "Then how can you love me, if you do not know what hurts me?" the neighbor answered. Stendahl said the story must be rephrased also to ask the question "Do you know what makes me glad?"


Spiritual practices for both prayer and daily living will anchor us as well as launch us, with God's help, into a future we can only begin to imagine. During our time together we will have a chance to practice (as we are able):
practicing justice
committing acts of hope
and, of course,
communal prayer

Dark Radiance will offer resources and practices organized according to a steady rhythm:

* Sunday (or Saturday evening) Scriptural reflection
* a pause to ponder each new week of Advent with one or more of the biblical readings in the Sunday lectionary (usually the Revised Common Lectionary) and a related reflection.
* Mindfulness Monday
* a piece of art or music to gaze at or listen to with full attention
 * guidance in a simple spiritual practice to focus the beginning of each work week.
(You may choose to focus on one or the other of these -- or both.)
* Midweek check-in
* a time to pause in the midst of our busy lives, name the struggles in and around us, and touch base again with the message(s) of the Advent season. It can be a time to lament, listen, gaze, remember, dream, and discern.
* Friday Forum: Courage, Creativity, and Hope
* examples of hope incarnate, of God-among-us: people, stories, communities, events.
* And here and there...
* ... a piece of music, a bit of wisdom, an image to contemplate, a saint's feast to celebrate. We will commemorate special feast days (and sequences of days) within the season.
An online retreat? How does that work?

* The retreat offers daily resources (the quotes, spiritual exercises, and prayers mentioned above, with some images as well to nourish you visually, and some music here and there) online on a blog. More specifically, a closed blog.

* What's a closed blog? It's a blog like this, but it is not public: it is open only to those whom the blog owner-administrator (that's me) has signed in. In other words, it is not open to anybody wandering around the internet. It is not "searchable": random web surfers will not be able to view either the blog or our conversations in the comments.

* Do I have to talk to other people on the retreat? I'm a very private person.


* Can I get some support here? I need to talk.

Jane's online retreats offer you a choice: it is up to you to find your preferred balance between the solitary and the communal, between privacy and solidarity.

You can and may remain private and just read the blog and use the practices and meditations on your own. Nobody will force you to speak or disclose who you are. Use the retreat according to your personality and your circumstances. The retreat is like a room in which you are welcome to sit in the company of others and to be either visible or invisible.

Or you can and may take part in conversation with other retreatants. Conversation during the retreat takes place in writing, via the comments on the blog posts of the retreat blog. Please be prepared to observe confidentiality and respect for other participants' diverse experiences and outlooks.

Registration and payment

To register, write me, Jane Redmont, at if you plan to pay by check, and I will acknowledge your registration and send you the mailing address. I will also notify you when I receive your check.


If you want to pay by credit or debit card or with a PayPal account, simply register and pay in a single transaction using the PayPal button below. (You can use that button and its secure connection to pay with a credit or debit card even if you don't have a PayPal account.) 

The PayPal payment will record your name and e-mail address and serve as your registration. You will receive an acknowledgment from me within 24 hours.

Payment is non-refundable and due upon registration.

If you are in a situation of financial stress, please write me and we can arrange for a discount, payment plan, or scholarship. (If you wish to help make more scholarships possible, just check the "benefactor" rate below.)

Retreat fees (choose one)

Begin where you are -- not where you "ought to be." 
God will meet you there. 

Retreat designer and facilitator

Jane Redmont is a retreat leader, spiritual director, pastoral worker, writer, and theologian who has worked in  campus, urban, and parish ministries. An Episcopal Christian, she was also formed in the Catholic tradition and has Jewish and Unitarian Universalist family roots; she has been involved in work for justice and ecumenical and interreligious relations all her life.  

Jane designed and taught Guilford College's course in African American Religion and Theology; it became her most popular course during her seven years as a professor at Guilford. During most of her time in Greensboro, NC, where Guilford is located, she was also a member --and for over two years, the chair-- of the Bishop's Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.  Jane is the author of more than 100 articles and of two books, Generous Lives: American Catholic Women Today and When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life. She works as a Congregational Consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and serves on the Episcopal Church's New England Province (Province I)'s task force on cultural competence and racial justice.

Questions? Concerns? Write me (Jane) here.