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Dr. Nicki Verploegen on Contemplative Living


Dr. Nicki Verploegen, Cofounder of Tatenda International, chats with Father Dave about her book, “Organic Spirituality: A Sixfold Path for Contemplative Living.”

Dr. Nicki shares the genesis of Tatenda, which supports the efforts of relief organizations. “We started an organization several years ago while visiting Zimbabwe. We were ministering and giving retreats, and it became really clear to us that a lot of the caregivers who work in impoverished areas of the world lack people taking care of them. So we started an organization called Tatenda. Tatenda means “thank you” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Tatenda International is responsible for caring for caregivers. We go in and give retreats free of charge to help replenish them in spirit, body, and mind.”

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Father Dave asks Dr. Nicki to define contemplation, the subject of her book. “I think there is a misunderstanding that contemplative means inactive. In this day and age, we understand that contemplativeness is the complement to an active life. The only way you can sustain an active life, whether it is in ministry or child rearing, etc., is to have a balance of both action and contemplation. The contemplative is the part that allows you to focus on slowing down and entering into a deeper level of awareness, appreciation, and gratitude. It’s usually a quieter form of spiritual life. You are pulling back from the noise that you live in, and in that pulling back, you enter into a deeper awareness of the life that is around. This fosters gratitude which sets you up for better prayer.”

Dr. Nicki shares advice on how to practice contemplation in a busy life. “I often encourage people to pick one little activity, like eating good food, and slow it down. Most of us inhale our food. When you slow down, you are more able to savor whatever it is you are doing. Whether it’s walking, eating, brushing your teeth, or taking a shower, savor the gift that it is, and that will open the door to gratitude.”