Stillness in Motion - the tai chi video

Ben Wren teaches tai chi in this instructional video introducing the long-soft form.

The video opens with an eight-minute visual introduction to the entire form then Ben moves into a studio to teach us the movement and meaning of each step.

Benjamin Wren or, 'Zen Ben Wren' to thousands of Loyola University students who knew him as a teacher of Zen practice and Asian history as a Jesuit priest, then as a layman, died of lung cancer at age 75.

Ben spent 35 years on the Loyola faculty. For almost all his career he was a Jesuit priest. He left the order in 1996 after 48 years as a Jesuit, married Pat Wren and remained at Loyola. He taught Zen in a spare, fifth-floor zendo, or meditation hall, in Marquette Hall where the center of focus was a metal figure of the crucified Christ hanging on a barbed wire.

Ben was fascinated his entire life by Eastern philosophy, which he believed could be successfully integrated into Catholic spirituality, despite some reservations from the Vatican. He used Zen as a form of nondirected meditation, believing it opened the practitioner to the experience of God.

'God is not found by adding, but by subtracting,' he said in a 1990 Times-Picayune interview. In the stillness of Zen, 'we find the present moment is pregnant with God. Most of us are guilty of abortion.'

He explored much of that territory in a 1999 book, 'Zen Among the Magnolias.'

Loyola spokeswoman Kristine Lelong said Ben's Zen classes were among the most popular on campus, and returning alumni would frequently ask about him.

Yet his Zen classes were not open to all. He screened applicants. 'Some people's consciousness is best left undisturbed,' he told an interviewer in 1999.

Not surprisingly, Ben's background was multicultural. His mother was born in Hong Kong; his father was an American Marine. Ben was raised in Georgia.

'I said my grandmother on my mother's side is buried in Singapore. And my grandmother on my father's side is buried in Georgia. So East meets West, and here I is,' he once said.

Ben entered the Jesuit order at 17. He earned advanced degrees in Eastern studies from the University of Arizona, taught high school in Texas and arrived at Loyola in 1970. Except for a one-year stint teaching in Tokyo, he remained continuously on the Loyola faculty.

Thirty-five years after his ordination, Ben left the Jesuits and at 65 married Pat. Although his ministry was no longer recognized by the Catholic Church, he considered himself a priest even in his new life, his wife said. He affiliated with CORPUS, an organization of men who had left the priesthood to marry, his wife said.

A memorial service for Ben was held Aug. 19, 2006 at All Saints Episcopal Church, 100 Rex Drive in River Ridge.

The Long-Soft Form - Tai Chi Stance | Reaching for the Earth | Embracing the Universe | Petting the reins of the horse | Blowing out Chi | Ward off blow | Chop the Monkey | Playing the Harp | Brushing off sparrows | Repel the Monkey | Approach the Monkey | Divine supplication | Retreat from the Monkey | Ward off blow | Pack the Monkey | Wash the Monkey | Shove the Monkey | Pull the bow | Tai Chi Stance | Clouds and rain | Hurricane | Lightning bolt | Chop the Monkey | Searching for the Jade | Tai Chi Stance/Torque | Exploding Monkey | Twin peaks | Piercing Jade Earrings | Tai Chi Stance/Torque | Golden rooster | Tree extension | Snake | Searching for the Jade | Searching for the needle in the haystack | Blind kick offense | Tai Chi Stance/Torque | Sweeping up the Earth | Swallowing the Earth | Temple Post Mediation

Video credits:

Stillness in Motion - the tai chi video | featuring the Rev. Ben Wren, S.J. | with Claudia Calebra, Dianne Ducote, Connie Gay, Maxine Hornung, Mimi Landry, Vivian Michals, Maria Suarez, Pat Voelkel, Dennis Wilson

photography by Brad Grundmeyer, Michael Park and Curt Wainwright | still photography by Tina Louie | field production by Carlos Colon and Kevin Goodman | edited by Shelby Cave | music composed and performed by Philip de Gruy | produced by Kevin Goodman and the Rev. Ben Wren, S.J. | directed by Kevin Goodman

Thanks to Mary Blue and Tim Watson

for Maxine, she dances amongst us

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