Centering Prayer & Christian Wisdom Practices Program

“May the next years see the increase of Centering Prayer, and the creative addition of other wisdom aspects that might enhance what we are doing, or at least help us to do what we have learned out of our tradition, with complete commitment.”      

Thomas Keating, in A Life Surrendered to Love

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“Wisdom is concerned with the transformation of the whole human being. Transformation from what to what? Well, for a starter, from our animal instincts and egocentricity into love and compassion; from a judgmental and dualistic worldview into a nondual acceptingness. This was the message that Jesus, apparently out of nowhere, came preaching and teaching, a message that was radical in its own time and remains equally radical today.” — Cynthia Bourgeault

The Wisdom stream, thousands of years old, has permeated the contemplative dimension of many of the world’s religions. The Christian Wisdom tradition, for example, began with Jesus, a Wisdom teacher, and was carried forward by the early Desert Mothers and Fathers, and the Christian monastic contemplative tradition. It continues today, propagated by Wisdom teachers such as Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, James Finley, Bernadette Roberts, Beatrice Bruteau, and Cynthia Bourgeault, among many others. 

The Wisdom Path emphasizes transformation of the human being, and centers on practices that support this process and encourage not knowing more about God, but knowing God with more of our full, embodied being. One central Wisdom practice is Centering Prayer, in which we let go over and over, consenting to the presence and action of God within. Other important practices include chanting, sacred movement, welcoming/witnessing presence, and three-centered awareness (mind/thought, emotion/feeling, body/sensation). From the renewed, integrated way of seeing that these practices bring, we have more to offer to our world. 

The following offerings are meant to prepare us to live more consciously and to show up in the world holding our post as planetary servants who nurture the cultivation and become vessels of the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – in the world.



Centering Prayer is made possible through your generous donation.
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You can join us twice a week for a time to practice with others. The thirty minutes consist of a reading, chant, and/or body prayer followed by the practice of Centering Prayer (or any other type of silent meditation of your choice) for 20 minutes. Feel free to join for any part of it even if you come late or need to leave early. All are welcome as it works for your life. This is a free offering, you need only need to enter your contact info below to be added to the email list to receive the zoom links. Times are PACIFIC TIME and are the same each week:

  • Sundays @ 8:00-8:30 am
  • Thursdays @ 12:30-1:00 pm

Sign up to receive information about Centering Prayer events, including our free Thursday and Sunday Centering Prayer program.

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Practice Series are designed to provide an opportunity to get acquainted with different Contemplative Wisdom practices that can support your Wisdom path. These are especially for those who are new to the practices, although all are welcome including those who would like to come back to the basics and/or deepen them within your daily life. These take place online through zoom, are typically offered twice a year, and are meant to be participated in as a series however can also stand alone. The sessions focus on the following:

  • Session I

This Sacred Path: Three Centered Knowing         
This Sacred Surrender: Centering Prayer                                      

  • Session II

This Sacred Voice: Chanting
This Sacred Body: Gesture & Movement                           

  • Session III

This Sacred Self: Witnessing & Welcoming                               
This Sacred Heart: The Way of the Heart 


Silent Wisdom Retreats are designed with a fairly spacious rhythm of practice, learning, and integration together with others in silence in order to invite an experiential taste of a ‘wisdom way of knowing.’ These retreats provide the opportunity for a much deeper dive into particular core themes or tenets within the Christian Wisdom tradition with periods of teaching, centering prayer, chanting, embodiment practices, contemplative sharing and free time, all held in Silence. These are for anyone who has gone through the Introduction to a Wisdom Way of Knowing Practice Series or has some familiarity with Wisdom practices or contemplative practices from other traditions.


Wisdom Schools are designed with a fairly rigorous rhythm of practice, learning, and integration in togetherness with both silence and conscious talking in order to invite an experiential taste of a ‘wisdom way of knowing.’ These schools provide the opportunity for a much deeper dive into particular core themes or tenets within the Christian Wisdom tradition with periods of teaching, centering prayer, chanting, seated attention exercises, sacred movements, contemplative sharing and free time. These are for anyone who has gone through the Introduction to a Wisdom Way of Knowing Practice Series, Introductory Wisdom School, or has familiarity with Wisdom practices or contemplative practices from other traditions.

"In such times contemplatives are not a spiritual luxury; they are an evolutionary necessity. With sobriety and a fierce grit forged in the refiners' fire of their own transformation, they literally hold the worlds together and become both the heralds and the midwives of a new arising." — Cynthia Bourgeault

upcoming offerings . . .


Hybrid retreat: in-person & online options available
A curated retreat for contemplatives under 50, in-person silent wisdom retreat
In-person silent wisdom retreat


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Holding Our Planet: Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault

Hybrid (via Zoom or in-person at Mercy Center Burlingame) 2300 Adeline Drive, Burlingame

We have reached the max capacity for this retreat. Please click here and fill out the form to JOIN THE WAITLIST “You are the breath of God. You are the way […]

Get Tickets $400.00 – $1,100.00

The Way of the Heart: A Silent Wisdom Retreat

Mercy Center Burlingame 2300 Adeline Drive, Burlingame, CA, United States

The Mercy Center Centering Prayer Wisdom Program presents... The Way of the Heart: A Silent Wisdom Retreat Starts with lunch at 12pm on August 23, ends at 4:30pm on August […]

Get Tickets $720.00 – $1,220.00


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who we are . . .

Joy Andrews Hayter, Ph.D. is a spiritual director whose offerings include Centering Prayer and other contemplative practices of the Christian Wisdom tradition. These practices encourage us to lean into the loving Mercy that is constantly being offered within a relational web of Sacred Unity. As a scientist she sees in the physical world an expression of that Mercy. Joy regularly offers retreats on Centering Prayer, and she regularly responds to questions about Centering Prayer in the Contemplative Outreach quarterly e-bulletin. She enjoys singing, and hiking and Scottish dancing with her husband Paul.

Heather Ruce, M. A. is a Wisdom Spiritual Director who offers Wisdom Practice Circles, Retreats, and Schools focused on the expansive Christian Wisdom Tradition. She works within the lineage of Wisdom Teacher Cynthia Bourgeault whom she has been a student of for over a decade. Heather weaves her training in Family Systems Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Organic Intelligence & Spiritual Direction into her teaching and guidance in various Wisdom practices in service of waking up and putting on the Mind of Christ. She loves going on long walks in the woods or by the ocean with her husband Charlie.

Catherine Regan, Ph.D. is a spiritual director, retired psychologist, and long time adjunct staff member at Mercy Center, now serving primarily on the Centering Prayer team. She has a special interest in participating in the reclamation of the Christian Wisdom tradition and fostering the contemplative practices so urgently needed at this time in our world.

We invite you to learn more about and participate in a Wisdom Way of Knowing with us.
Stay tuned for upcoming offerings by getting on the Mercy Center mailing list.