USC students gather in nature to perform ancient spiritual practices

The Rev. Jim Burklo, left, with trip organizer Jack Krone, describes the stages of early Christian monastic prayer. (USC Photo/Eric Lindberg)

“Escaping the pressures of daily life, students trekked to the San Gabriel Mountains to engage in contemplative prayer and learn about the mystical rituals of early Christianity.”

By Eric Lindberg

USC News

10.29.2019

In a dry creek bed with sunlight filtering through sycamores and evergreens, a group of USC students sat and quietly contemplated their place in the world.

They had hiked along a winding and dusty trail into the heart of Devil’s Punchbowl, a sandstone formation etched into the slopes of the northern San Gabriel Mountains, to practice the meditative spiritual traditions of early Christians.

Many had grown up in the Christian faith but wanted to learn more about its contemplative roots. Others were curious about the so-called Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers who developed these meditation exercises hundreds of years ago. Some were simply seeking escape from the anxiety and pressures of everyday life.

USC spiritual meditation

The once-a-semester trip involves an ancient Christian practice called Lectio Divina. (USC Photo/Eric Lindberg)

“It’s something that a lot of people are searching for but don’t know exists in the tradition they were brought up in,” said USC senior Jack Krone, who helped organize the trip. “You also get to go out and get away from the stresses of L.A. for a day while learning about contemplative Christianity in an environment that’s similar to where the early Christians would have been.”

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