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On Intersection of Now and Then: Making Sense of Times, Places, and Transitions

Cultures teach us how to notice, and mark, transitions in time, as when one season turns to the next or when one stage of life flows into another. Some psychologists believe that our very sense of who we are is the story we tell ourselves about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we imagine we are going. Our story is framed by time and place and the meanings we find in their intersections.

Transitions of moving from one place to another, whether by choice, obligation or for survival, are less subtle and less inevitable than those of time. How did I get here? Where am I going? Can I go back? Moreover, our memories and dreams are marked by the intersection of particular places at particular times in our lives.

This seminar invites you to join a conversation about the times and places and transitions in your life and Life. The heart of our gathering beats from the conversations that we share around our table — and when we share with just one other sometimes or a few others at other times, drawing upon a variety of forms of exploring questions that are at the same time uniquely personal and perhaps also universal.

We meet in a unique space — a modest Zen Buddhist center in a dramatic place in the high desert setting (elevation 6500 ft./2000 m.) in northern New Mexico. At our doorstep are the natural hot springs that reveal a geological history that shaped this land. We meet at a place that for a thousand years has been home to the original people who lived here and whose community today is just a few minutes down the road.

We are invited there, at Jemez Pueblo, as guests of a friend who is a noted potter, and her family. We will visit Jemez Pueblo on November 12, the village Feast Day, honoring their patron saint — a reminder of a wrenching transition imposed by the alien Europeans, the Spanish, four centuries ago. It will be a day of celebration and ritual dances that predate the first contact with the Europeans. These dances are prayers, not performance.

As with people all over the world, place is central to identity for our indigenous neighbors, and in the strong oral tradition here, “time” can seem compressed to those of us accustomed to writing and strictly imposed calendar time. Anthropologist E.T. Hall who coined the term “intercultural communication” and who grew up in the area where we will meet, believed that ways we think about time and place serve as “coordinates of culture.”

John (“Jack”) Condon, considered one of the founders of the field of intercultural communication, has lived in or near large cities for much of his life (Chicago, Mexico City, Tokyo). After nearly a third of his adult life outside of the U.S., in recent years his home is in Jemez Springs, NM (pop. 375), site of this seminar.

Jack is Regents’ Professor of Communication at the University of New Mexico, but he prefers to learn in collaboration with others outside of the conventional classroom, in and from the natural and built environment.

Tatyana Fertelmeyster, an interculturalist, and a mental health counselor came to the United States from Russia in 1989 moving from one of the largest cities in the world (Moscow) to a "bedroom community" in the Chicagoland suburbia. She does not like to move, and she feels most at home on the road. In her consulting practice, Tatyana has a strong preference for spontaneous facilitation – an approach to working with groups and individuals that is based on maximum presence to what is happening right at the moment and bringing learning in through insights, metaphors, and mindful meaning-making.

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Contact the Zen Center for more information at (575) 829-3854 or

Earlier Event: October 27
Zen Retreat with Hosen & Koshin
Later Event: November 16