An Apprenticeship with Sorrow: A Weekend Retreat

With Francis Weller

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Check out Francis Weller’s other paid recorded program, Soul Work and the Art of Ripening: A Five Part Online Course on the Alchemy of Initiation, and his articles: The Generous Heart: The Gift of Self-Compassion and The Grandeur of the Soul.

“Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.”

-Oscar Wilde

Cultivating the skills of grief work are critical in these days of wild uncertainty and rampant loss. While the pandemic has quickened our awareness of the fragile threads that hold a culture together, it is only one of the pending threats that we must come to face. Social issues such as systemic racism and economic disparity, global concerns around climate catastrophe, all weigh on us, requiring a strong and urgent response. We need to fortify our inner and outer resources to not only weather the storms but be tempered by them as well. We do this work not solely for our own healing, but also to make us capable of responding to the critical needs of our times.

This weekend gathering will explore the elements each of us require to take up an Apprenticeship with Sorrow. It is through a prolonged intimacy with grief that we are ripened as human beings. Our work is to understand grief not only as an emotion, but also a core faculty of being human, a profound capacity to metabolize sorrow into something nutrient dense for the community. This apprenticeship is, at heart, about the crafting of elders capable of meeting the pain and suffering of the world with a dignified and robust bearing.

Grief and loss will be our constant companions. Staying open to these fierce guests enables us to also remain connected to joy and vitality. So much depends on these next decades and the upcoming generations. So much hinges on a heart enamored with the world. As Wendell Berry says, “It all turns on affection”.

Utilizing the potent tools of writing practice, small group work, meditation, and ritual, we will build a community of concerned hearts and coax our stories of loss and suffering into the visible world. Topics include: the ideology of individualism leading to feelings of separation and emptiness; the six elements in our apprenticeship with sorrow, how trauma and soul loss can be held; the Long Dark that invites our capacity for imagination and repair; and the role of love and power in ripening our intimacy with the living world.

Francis Weller

Francis Weller

Francis Weller, MFT, is a psychotherapist, writer, and soul activist. Author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation, (with Rashani Réa) and In the Absence of the Ordinary: Essays in a Time of Uncertainty, he has introduced the healing work of ritual to thousands of people. He founded and directs WisdomBridge, an organization that offers educational programs that seek to integrate the wisdom from indigenous cultures with the insights and knowledge gathered from Western poetic, psychological and spiritual traditions.

Francis’ writings have appeared in anthologies and journals exploring the confluence between psyche, nature, and culture, including “The Sun” magazine, the “Utne Reader”, “Kosmos Journal”, and “Ruminate”. Francis is currently on staff at Commonweal Cancer Help Program, co-leading their week-long retreats with Michael Lerner. He is currently completing his fourth book, The Alchemy of Initiation: Soul Work and the Art of Ripening.