Sarah Bachelard is an Anglican priest and theologian. She lives in Canberra in Australia where she has taught in the areas of theology, ethics and spirituality at Charles Sturt University and is an honorary research fellow at the Australian Catholic University. She is currently working as a parish priest and retreat leader. She is a member of the WCCM and was a keynote speaker at the John Main Seminar in Montreal in 2007.
What do we experience when we ‘experience’ God? How do we know that it is God we are experiencing? This lecture engages these questions by exploring the concepts of ‘God’ and ‘experience’ at some depth. It argues that the non-idolatrous experience of God is a process which strips us of untruth and false consolation. This is an encounter mediated by the practice of contemplative prayer and often precipitated by a time of crisis.
In crises of many different kinds we face distinct forms of suffering. We suffer the losses and pain of whatever has befallen us in forms such as grief, fear, illness, shame or injustice. And we suffer the collapse of meaning, the loss of the story we knew and were able to tell of our lives. This lecture asks how it is possible, through the practice of meditation, to integrate the distinctive suffering of crisis in such a way that it leads us into a deeper wholeness and truth.
The paradox of both the contemplative life and a time of crisis is that by taking us deeply into ourselves, meeting and learning to accept whatever is painful, unresolved or illusory within us, we are empowered to move back into the world with a radically deepened relationship to it. This lecture explores how our deepening inner pilgrimage frees us to be more wholly and vitally in the world, focusing particularly on our relationship to death, to the suffering world and to the possibilities of our lives.