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Gerald May Seminar


Save the Date for the Tenth Gerald May Seminar
with James Finley

April 24 - April 25, 2015
Location in DC area TBD

Renowned leader of retreats and workshops throughout the US and Canada, Dr. Finley is a clinical psychologist and the author of Merton's Palace of Nowhere, The Contemplative Heart, and Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God.

Friday, April 24, 2015, 7-9 pm
Saturday, April 25, 2015, 10 am to 4 pm

Watch for details in Shalem's eNewsletter. (Input your email on the left hand sidebar on this page to receive our monthly offering.)



Information from 2014 Gerald May Seminar:

Mark Nepo

Poet and Philosopher
Author of The Book of Awakening

First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 

Friday, March 21, 2014, 7:00 to 9:00 PM, $25
Saturday, March 22, 2014, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, $75

If you cannot attend Mark Nepo's Friday night presentation in person, you can still participate in this program by signing up for the LiveStreaming of Friday night's program.  See below for registration.

Program Description

Friday Evening—Reduced to Joy, An Evening Mark Nepo

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Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark Nepo, the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Awakening, has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time,” “a consummate storyteller,” and “an eloquent spiritual teacher.” His many books have been translated into more than twenty languages. Now in his sixties, he has recently published Reduced to Joy, a book of seventy-three poems, retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years, about the nature of working with what we’re given till it wears us through to joy.

About joy, Nepo says, “Often, what keeps us from joy is the menacing assumption that life is happening other than where we are.” Of the book, he says, “Poetry is the well from which all my books rise. It’s where I always go to listen, always stunned by what arrives. It’s how I know the inner world. I bring these poems back from the deep like shells from the sea that we can look at together.”

Mark will read from Reduced to Joy and other books, followed by a conversation. While the evening stands as an experience unto itself, it also serves as a threshold to the workshop being held the next day.

As the wind makes a different song
through the same tree as its branches
break, God makes finer and finer music
through the wearing down of our will.
            Mark Nepo

Saturday—Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: A Workshop Guided by Mark Nepo

This workshop is based on Mark’s recent book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen which won the 2012 Books for a Better Life Award.

We spend much of our time on earth listening and waking. When awake, we come upon the risk to be authentic. And taking that risk, we are faced with the need to stand by our core in order to live life fully. If we get this far, we are returned, quite humbly, to the simple fate of being here. And after all this way, it appears that a devotion to deep listening remains the simple and sacred work of being here.

Yet how do we inhabit these connections and find our way in the world? By listening our way into lifelong friendships with everything larger than us, with our life of experience, and with each other. Our friendship with everything larger than us opens us to the wisdom of Source. This is the work of being. Our friendship with experience opens us to the wisdom of life on earth. This is the work of being human. And our friendship with each other opens us to the wisdom of care. This is the work of love. These eternal friendships are intertwined and inseparable. We need to listen for their wisdom if we have any hope of living an awakened life. These three friendships—the work of being, the work of being human, and the work of love—frame the journey of this workshop.

Using ancient and contemporary stories, poetry, journaling and dialogue, Mark will open the work of listening on these levels and invite participants to befriend their own stories and listen for their own wisdom in this reflective and transformational gathering.

This workshop is an invitation to engage with profound and life-giving material that will deepen the way you perceive and relate to the world.

Bring a journal

“Much of my life has been devoted to staying in conversation with everything around me—with the mystery, with God or Source, with the rivers of change, with you. As I get older, I long even more for the wisdom and companionship of other living things; to stay in conversation with all I love, with all I admire, with all who have suffered and given of themselves to stay alive and to keep life going. In many ways, our stories are part of one story. Our pain is part of one pain. Our surprise at the beauty and fragility of life is part of one chorus of awe. My passion now is to stay as close as possible to the pulse of what is kind and true; to stay in conversation with what happens there and to experience more and more ways to listen.”  — Mark Nepo

"7,000 Ways to Listen? I don't have that much time!" says Oprah, as Mark Nepo clarifies for her what he means by 7,000 Ways to Listen in the video below (Shalem is not responsible for the ads before the video):

Why Poet Mark Nepo Says There Are 7,000 Ways to Listen

When poet and best-selling author Mark Nepo learned there were 7,000 ways to speak, he figured there had to be just as many ways to listen. Watch as Mark defines what it means to truly listen and what we'll discover once we hear what the universe is telling us.

Mark Nepo is a poet and philosopher who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over 30 years. He is best known for The Book of Awakening and has published 12 books and recorded six audio projects. A cancer survivor, he writes and teaches about the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship. In 2010 Oprah Winfrey chose The Book of Awakening as one of her Ultimate Favorite Things for her farewell season; he was interviewed by her as part of her SIRIUS XM Radio show, "Soul Series” and will be interviewed by her again this fall.

The Gerald May Seminar is offered in memory of the life and legacy of Jerry MayGerald (Jerry) May.  Jerry served on Shalem's staff for many years and was our Senior Fellow for Contemplative Theology and Psychology.  The Seminar is held every year to strengthen the great themes of contemplative understanding and practice that Jerry so valued.

Interested in last year's Gerald May Seminar resources?

Follow the link on the top righthand side of this page to view our YouTube archives of past seminars.


Online registration closed.  Walk-in's welcome.

To contact Program Registrar, Chris Jeffrey: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , (301-897-7334)

LiveStream Registration is Open:

To register for LiveStream of Friday night, please click here.


Special Offering from Sounds True

40% off Mark Nepo eCourse use Promo Code: TOP40 during registration

Plan Your Visit

How to get to First Congregational United Church of Christ

Downtown DC at 10th and G, NW
945 G Street NW, Washington DC 20001

View Larger Map

Please click here to view
a printable map with
local points of interest, some
nearby hotels, and labeled
metro station exits.

The church is on the lower two floors of a large office building.  Sometimes people drive by and do not realize that the church is part of that building.  Look for a modern glass structure with grey brick and a striking bronze column on the northwest corner of 10th street and G street.

By Metro

To get to the church, the recommendation is to use Metro.

Take trains to Metro Center.  Exit the Metro Center terminal at the 11th Street exit (east).  As you come up to the street, you will be facing south at the top of the escalators and the street on your right will be 11th street.  Turn right or left and double back to the cross street (that is G street), turn right and go one block to 10th Street.  The church is a large modern building on the NE corner of 10th and G Street.

If you want to plan your metro trip to the church, visit the metro website here:

For more information on how to purchase fare cards, visit the Visitors Information page here.

For delays due to track maintenance, especially good to check on weekends, visit the Metro Alerts page here.

To Calculate your trip time, visit the Trip Planner page here.

By Auto

Tenth Street is one way southbound.  G Street runs east-west two way.

To find parking you may want to visit the following websites to get information about hours and cost.

View DC area map of parking garages and contact information here.

View the ParkingPanda interactive map here to browse area parking at certain times.

View's list of parking garage contact information here.

Where to Stay

Since the church is very metro accessible, there is a wide choice of places to stay. You can look for hotels in Washington, DC or the surrounding suburbs.  You do want to find one that is close to metro, if that is your choice mode of transport.