Universal Heart Newsletter

Includes: Visits to Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne – February 2011 * Easter Retreat and new Writing Retreat in Kyoto (Oct 2011) * Interfaith in Sydney 20 February 3pm * Renewing kindness? * Bookshop * Facebook * Iqbal

Dear friends

A rewarding and blessed new year to each of you. And I hope this newsletter finds you well. 2011 has begun in such a dramatic and challenging way in many parts of the world, including here in Australia with the most extreme and widespread floods in our recorded history. Most of my immediate family live in or near Sydney and we haven’t been physically affected. But whether or not we are in the midst of this, such cataclysmic events challenge us all and point to a constant need to support one another. Our interdependence becomes inescapable.

Those suffering most literally cannot get through such times without the selflessness and energy of others. And in the reflection on kindness that I link to below, I strongly suggest that we need overt kindness even in the easiest times. Kindness is expressed through thoughtfulness, respect, consideration, care, good humour, patience. It can include giving others the benefit of the doubt, speaking well of them, encouraging them, sustaining hope. This is the currency that says, “You matter. Your life matters.” We can never underestimate how powerful that is, nor how necessary.

I came home a few days ago from my first teaching workshop of the year – my fourth annual January workshop in Auckland, New Zealand. About 55 of us gathered on a warm summery day and reflected together on spiritual gifts and particularly on how those gifts – including “belonging” and “discernment” – augment psychological insight and enquiry. We need them collectively; we need them personally.

We also reflected together on the Buddhist teaching on loving-kindness, the Metta Sutta. I will certainly offer a similar workshop in a couple of venues in Australia during 2011. It was a joy to give.

Meanwhile, I will be in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne for public events in February. (Links below.) In Canberra (5 Feb) to give a morning workshop on “Exploring our Spiritual Stories” and then a free public talk, 2-3pm, on the art and craft of my writing life, offered under the auspices of the ACT Writers’ Centre. I’ve not spoken in Canberra for years so am looking forward to it.

In Sydney (8 February) I am returning to one of my favourite bookshops, Shearers in Leichhardt, to give a talk on Seeking the Sacred, sign books, answer questions, and generally celebrate this book that is coming to seem increasingly timely. If you live or work nearby, join us! Bookings necessary: 9572 7766.

In Melbourne (11-12 February) I will once again be taking part in “Writers at the [Abbotsford] Convent”, a small literary festival and one of the very nicest as it does still feel intimate and inclusive as well as lively.

You can follow up on any of these events via http://www.stephaniedowrick.com/frontpage/events-2011/ That page will be regularly updated. I would always love to see you – and never hesitate to mention that you are a member of this Network!  Information is always easily accessed on my website. A good reason to visit.

It seems like some time until Easter but because places are limited do please contact Mana Retreat Centre, Coromandel, New Zealand, asap if you feel this is something that would refresh and benefit you. The cost of this Thursday eve – Monday lunch retreat is modest, about A$620/ NZ$795, and the location, food, atmosphere are truly exceptional. (Easily reached from Auckland airport.) I will be teaching this year on some of the key themes from Seeking the Sacred. Enquiries to Mana Retreat Centre, Telephone 07 866 8972 (you are dialling NZ). This is our 10th Easter Retreat and a highlight in my teaching year.

Another event where there will be considerable interest and limited places is the new Writing in Kyoto workshop (8 nights/late October 2011), open to people keen to explore their creativity and joy in writing at all levels in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. You can join us in Kyoto at the beginning of the workshop from anywhere in the world. To register your interest email William Suganda: william@inspiredtraveller.com.au

Details follow for the Interfaith services in Sydney which start again in February. (Meditation starts 2 Feb and is weekly; monthly services begin 20 Feb, then each 3rd Sunday until December at 3pm); for book buying, and for those wanting briefer reading, there are links to my article on kindness and to the article on new year resolutions.  Details, too, of the new Facebook page and what it offers.  Feel free to forward on these details to those in your circles – or the Newsletter as a whole.

Interfaith Services Interfaith service, Sydney, 20 February, 3pm

These spiritually inclusive services are held on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 3pm – except January. Whatever your spiritual journey, they may meet your needs for a time of unconditional acceptance, deep peace and renewal.  We offer teachings, prayers and readings from a variety of traditions, exquisite music, a short talk, and a time of social gathering and conversation for those who want that.

Details: Interfaith with Rev Dr Stephanie Dowrick. Music: Kim Cunio & Heather Lee. Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000. Nearest cross Street is Park. Some street parking. Excellent public transport (nr Town Hall). Services around 75 minutes. Children always welcome.

We also offer meditation each Wednesday at Pitt Street (264) Uniting, 6-6.45pm. Suitable for all levels. No charge.

Books/CDs on line.   The wesbite bookshop is a portal to Seekbooks, Australia’s biggest on-line booksellers. You can order at a small discount from their complete range. All sales directly benefit the Universal Heart Network via a small refund.  Forgiveness & Other Acts of Love is again available with a beautiful new cover. In the Company of Rilke, Seeking the Sacred, and the recent guided meditation CD I made with musician Kim Cunio, Peaceful Mind, are there – as are all my other books and CDs, plus a million (or so!) other titles.Postage is pegged at $6.95 for an unlimited number of items. Down the right-hand margin of the bookshop page is a list of books I currently recommend. Look out for Abraham Verghese’s novel, Cutting for Stone, or Marilynne Robinson’s Home. I am re-reading Thomas R. Kelly’s Testament of Devotion. Enjoy!

Facebook link. Please “Like” the “Official Stephanie Dowrick” Facebook page ONLY. Other pages set up in my name have a few feeds from my page but are nothing to do with me. It’s easy for me to post pictures and brief notes on FB, and for you to leave responses and comments, helping us all to stay in touch. I am surprised to discover how useful it is.

I leave you with these beautiful lines from poet and mystic, Iqbal: Who can tell what miracles Love has in store for us, if only we can find the courage to become one with it? My very kindest wishes to you, Stephanie Dowrick