Finding Connection and Grounding through Contemplation in Daily Life

young woman standing in front of a mountain and blue sky scenery.

This past October, Campus Ministry offered a new program to all Georgetown students called Contemplation in Daily Life. The program offered opportunities to engage in contemplative practices from a variety of religious traditions with the accompaniment of a spiritual advisor from the multifaith team of Campus Ministry.

Here, Elizabeth Dillon (C’23) shares her experience of this inaugural, virtual program, what it was like to participate in a faith tradition different from hers and why she would do it again.

Midway through the semester, I found myself craving stillness and reflection, so when I heard that Campus Ministry was offering the Contemplation in Daily Life retreat I immediately signed up. I knew it would be the perfect way to take a deep breath and step back from my virtual schedule, all while taking part in a spiritual tradition different from my own Protestant background. 

Plus, this program was the perfect opportunity for me to take part in a spiritual tradition different from my own Protestant background. 

By providing programs from so many different faith traditions, Contemplation in Daily Life allowed me to pick the one that spoke to me most and to try something new. I decided to try the meniya meditation of the Jewish tradition, led by Rabbi Rachel Gartner, director for Jewish Life. “Meniya” means barrier, and the goal of the meditation is to engage with my spiritual barriers and reflect on the spiritual opportunities these provide. In a time when barriers seem so prevalent in our world, I felt the need to engage with my own. 

During the virtual opening gathering, I met students who were similarly feeling the need to reflect, many of whom were also engaging with a spiritual tradition unfamiliar to them. I felt an uplifting sense of community as I listened to my fellow retreatants speak of their own curiosity and need for stillness. The group was truly an embodiment of community in diversity. 

I met with Rabbi during the week to discuss my reflections and journaled to keep track of my thoughts. It seems amazing that I can find it hard to carve out time for reflection when I spend so much time in one place, but a simple 30 minutes of reflection a day gave me the breathing room to examine my thoughts. I learned that during a time of hardship in the world, it is more important than ever to pay attention to my internal and spiritual life.

When I went into the retreat, I was feeling spiritually dried out. Rabbi helped me to reflect on a new spiritual framework. I felt aspects of the Jewish tradition speaking to me and, although it seems contradictory, strengthening my Protestant spirituality. In particular, I reflected upon the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness recounted in the Old Testament and the Torah. I looked for the manna, or provision of God, in my daily life.

This program completely surpassed my expectations. Usually, virtual communication leaves something to be desired for me, but I felt more connected to my Georgetown community, to God, and to myself that week than I had felt in a long time. At the closing gathering, I couldn’t believe that only five days of reflection had done so much to help me feel grounded and centered. I appreciate that Campus Ministry was able to find new ways for us to connect across traditions this virtual semester, and I would highly encourage anyone who is seeking stillness or the opportunity to try something new to take advantage of Campus Ministry’s amazing programming.

Elizabeth Dillon is a sophomore in the College majoring in Classics. She works at Campus Ministry as a member of the Hospitality Team and attends Sunday Night Worship where she sings in the Gospel Choir.