Guild Associates are those who, seeking to ground their lives and work in unconditional Presence, have chosen to ally themselves as a network of contemplatives for purposes of spiritual support and growth, collegiality and accountability, and have also chosen to experience the Associate application and discernment process.
Vocationally, Associates come from various walks of life as clergy, spiritual directors, retreat leaders, small practice group facilitators, educators, psychotherapists, social workers, physicians, pharmacologists, and many others. We enjoy landscaping, gardening, farming, woodworking, cooking, writing, and all manner of art and recreating in Nature. We seek to live as fully as possible our active lives from our grounding in the contemplative life.
Our lives as Guild Associates are rooted in shared values related to our daily spiritual practices, the conduct of our personal and vocational lives, and our way of being with one another in our gatherings. We have written straightforward guidelines for each of these three areas: Guild Rule of Life, Guild Guidelines for Ethical Conduct, and Guidelines for Small and Large Group Conversations.
Among our offerings, Guild Associates lead weekly Contemplative Gatherings and monthly Quiet Days, which are free of charge to participants. We participate in and help lead Guild Institute programs. Associates also offer local programs, workshops, and retreats on a wide range of topics and individual and group spiritual direction or guidance throughout northern New England.
In addition to participating in an association of contemplatives for mutual spiritual and vocational support, Associates enjoy several benefits:
- The energetic companionship of a vital spiritual community.
- Shared practice and growth through leadership of Guild Contemplative Groups and Quiet Days.
- Participation and leadership in Institute and Associate-led programs at a reduced cost.
- Intimate gatherings with nationally and internationally known teachers and retreat leaders.
- An annual Board and Associates’ retreat
- Publicity for our offerings via the Guild website (see the Associates’ Directory).
- A monthly newsletter that goes out to over 1,500 people.
For more information, please see Guild Associates’ Responsibilities and Benefits.
In short, the Guild’s experience is that a unique kind of community emerges when space is made for contemplative Silence at its center. We value the spacious Presence that emerges out of this Silence. We honor the gift each person brings to the gathered community as a reflection of this larger Presence.
We view participants in our programs as actively engaged in the transformation of our world. In William Stringfellow’s words, our Associates’ network is one way the Guild enacts, “a fearful hope for society.” Here is what one of our Associate members has to say:
What the Northeast Guild Means to Me
Discovering this small initiative called the Northeast Guild for Spiritual Formation about 15 years ago was an answer to a prayer for me. Since completing the Shalem program for Spiritual Guidance in 1999, I was hungry to learn more about spiritual life and expand my relationships with like-minded spiritual seekers beyond my local community. Being able to participate in Guild programs on Mount Desert Island and stay at the Alcyon Center has deepened my spiritual awareness.
I have been fortunate to take part in many overnight times of Teaching and Retreat. My prayer practice has deepened as a result of these opportunities. The Guild is also an excellent resource for new books and other resources that keep me abreast of the spiritual world. I have also appreciated the Alcyon Center’s hospitality for times of simple rest and personal renewal.
The Guild stretches beyond Mount Desert Island, bringing deepening opportunities to my local community in Brunswick. I became an Associate when Jeanne Tuttle and I offered a bi-monthly Quiet Day at my house. Jeanne and I also served on the Guild Spiritual Life Table and attended meetings with the Board of Directors.
I receive loving encouragement and guidance for my small Spiritual Friendship practice with several directees and support for our local Peer Group Supervision group. Here in Brunswick, we also have a bi-weekly time of Silent Prayer, which is open to all who wish to participate. Also, a time of prayer and reflection is available via ZOOM for those who find it difficult to get to Mount Desert Island or desire more frequent contact.
My time with the Guild has gone by quickly, and my years are reminding me of the need to be less active. However, the Guild still has much that I will be able to take part in locally, such as contributing financially to the Guild’s work, praying for the Guild and its Associates, using resources suggested in the Newsletter, and participating in offerings locally and on the Internet. For example, Dennis Kiley’s online presentation this summer of an eco-spirituality initiative, “Nature Inspired Spirituality,” will feed me for the rest of my life.
The Guild touches my life in some way every day. I know that I have a community that assures me I belong and that I have a place where I will be loved, encouraged, strengthened, and blessed with gifts shared by all members. The journey continues…