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Global Sisters Report: February 2017


As President Donald Trump begins to roll out in rapid fire the many executive orders seeking to overturn decisions not only of the Obama Administration but programs and policies that have been in place for decades, I find myself seeking to understand the larger picture. Taking a long loving look at all that is going on is not easy. I know I have more to ponder, and this has made a focus for this reflection difficult.  Read More

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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New Resource:

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 Post-Election 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.

 Finding Our Balance Post-Election

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



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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….


Impasse might not be a familiar word for you. But see if the following questions resonate with you. As you reflect on your life on this planet do you experience a sense of powerlessness, a feeling that things have gotten so complex that you don’t have the answers anymore? Do you feel a sense of futility as you continue your work of transformation, a realization that all the ways you know for effecting change and influencing others are not enough–they are not adequate–they just aren’t working? Do you experience a low-grade anger or a grief that never leaves you?   Read More

Contemplative Sitting Network

February 2017

There’s a lot to be said about living in what’s being called a “Post-Truth Era.”  The questions, the un-truths, and the half-truths, however, are not just coming from the White House.  They are coming from almost everywhere, the pulpit included.  It is perhaps from here that they can inadvertently do the most harm.  Communal contemplative sitting in many ways acts as a fact-checker in the face of all of this.

grand canyonThrough the constancy of our sitting the Spirit of God convinces us, as water gradually wears away a stone, of what is most true and most real.  Most especially, any lingering doubts about the totality and incomprehensibility of the Divine’s love for the Universe and each of its creatures in their particularity, simply fades from view.  Suggesting, as is heard all too often in places of worship, that any of us can destroy the image of God in ourselves because of any action we do or don’t do, just doesn’t cut it.  Thank God, we are not that powerful.  What’s most inimical about this thought, however, is that it inadvertently gives the rest of us permission to stop loving those who can’t or won’t come up to our preconceived standards of what is and is not acceptable.

The day in, day out showing up, or perhaps more to the point, sometimes not showing up, for our contemplative sitting, bathes us in a love that cannot be earned, is not dependent upon our own virtue or lack of it.  It is a Love that is unconditional, and recklessly extravagant.  Feast on this Love as we enter the season of Lent.  It is a Truth that admits of no “pre” or “post.”  It is a Love that is timeless, yet awaits our continued acceptance as we sit each morning.

Happy Lent and blessed sitting!

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.