“Reduced to Joy” and “Seven Thousand Ways to Listen”

Washington, DC—The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation will welcome Mark Nepo, well-known author of The Book of Awakening, as guest speaker at Shalem’s Ninth Gerald G. May Seminar, March 21 and 22, 2014.

Mark Nepo, an eloquent teacher and storyteller, has been called one of the finest spiritual guides of our time. Friday evening will focus on the spiritual insights of poetry and will include readings from his recent volume, Reduced to Joy. Saturday’s workshop will be based on his most recent book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.

Nepo believes that we find our way in the world by listening our way into lifelong friendships with everything larger than us (the work of being), with our life of experience (the work of being human), and with each other (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.

“Poetry is always where I go to listen,” Nepo says, and Friday evening will be an opportunity to listen with him to poetry’s insights. His recent poems were retrieved and shaped over thirteen years and look at the nature of working with what we’re given until we wear through to joy. While the evening stands as an experience unto itself, it also serves as a threshold to the workshop being held the next day.

The Saturday workshop will focus on the deep listening that remains our simple and sacred work and will draw from Nepo’s recent Seven Thousand Ways to Listen.


Using ancient and contemporary stories, poetry, journaling and dialogue, Nepo will open the work of listening and invite participants to befriend their own stories and listen for their own wisdom.

“I can think of no better person than Mark Nepo to be this year’s Gerald May Seminar presenter,” says Leah Rampy, Shalem’s executive director. “Not only did Mark and Jerry know each other and work closely together at one time, they both wrote about the impact of cancer on their lives and gleaned great spiritual insights to share with us all.”
Both the lecture (7-9 PM Friday) and workshop (10 AM-4 PM Saturday) will be at First Congregational Church, 945 G Street, Washington, DC.  Advance registration is requested as space is limited.


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 was interviewed by her again in fall 2013.

The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation has provided in-depth support for contemplative living and leadership for 40 years, offering a wide variety of programs and resources for spiritual directors, clergy, lay leaders and individuals who want to open themselves more fully to God in their daily lives and work. This Seminar is offered in memory of the life and legacy of Gerald (Jerry) May, Shalem’s Senior Fellow for Contemplative Theology and Psychology.  More information about the event, costs and registration are at:


Monica Maxon

Bryan Berghoef


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