• Every individual has a unique spiritual journey, and is in a certain place on that journey in the present moment
• Everyone has a desire to grow into a deeper relationship with God and to be more open to the Spirit moving in their lives
• Moving from the intention to deepen our relationship to the Divine requires both individual work and corporate support from others
• Everyone is committed to sharing from their own lives and experience, recognizing that deeper sharing will come as trust (in each other and God) increases
• We will do what we can to participate fully: the commitment to each other and to the program is important to all of us
• We will risk honest plain talk regarding our own spirituality: feel free to use the words that best speak to and for you
• We will listen tenderly to each other and strive for acceptance and understanding. We will listen under and through the words we use.
• In order to build trust, we will hold in strict confidence what is said in all of the sessions.
• In a capsule: show up, be fully present, pay attention, speak truth, hold confidences, let go of outcomes, expect miracles.
2:00 pm Leaders arrive. (Usually three people, sometimes a fourth serving as elder))
4:00 pm Registration and Book Purchase (Books ordered from FGC or Pendle Hill, with a very clear invoice for folks to use to calculate how much they owe)
6:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm Worship
7:15 pm Welcome and Introductions: Names and Meetings (or whatever…)
7:30 pm Concentric Circles Trust Building exercise (Adapted from Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) design)
Instructions (5 min.): Including moving time, allow 6 minutes per question (15 sec. silent contemplation, 2 min a piece for sharing, 1 min for shifting position and introductions).
We want to give you an opportunity to get to know one another and where you are on your spiritual journeys, and build some trust among the whole community. To do this, we will share in pairs using concentric circles.
1. Please count off by two’s.
2. Will the ones turn their chairs to form an inner circle facing outward? The two’s please remain in place to form the outer circle—each “two” should now be directly opposite a “one”. When one or more people are movement-impaired, request they be the “two’s” in their partnership; in this case, the directions would always be to ask the one’s to “move one space to the RIGHT.”
3. When you meet your partner, shake hands and introduce yourselves.
4. You and your partner will take turns talking about a topic I will give you. When you are listening, you are ONLY listening, with no comments or discussion. Respect your partner’s pauses to think.
5. After I give you the topic, you will have a few moments of silence to think about it, and then I will say “begin,” and the first speaker will have 2 minutes to talk.
The ones will be the first speakers—those sitting in the inside circle. Do not be afraid of sitting in worshipful silence if no words seem to be coming forward.
6. The first question is: _______. Wait 15 seconds, and say “Begin.”
7. Call “time” at the end of two minutes. Some people give a warning…
8. Falling silent, please maintain eye contact. The speaker will now become the listener. Repeat the question, wait 15 seconds, and call “begin.”
9. Now both partners have had a turn as speaker and listener, please shake hands, thank your partner, and will the two’s(outer circle) please move one space to the RIGHT (counter clockwise).
10. Repeat the process again until you have completed the topics. At the second round, the two’s will be the first speakers. Pay attention so you can alternate which group begins as first speaker. Usually five or six queries are asked and answered. If less time is available, use only four.
Queries: Choose from this list according to your best guess as to what would be appropriate…or make up your own. Know that folks appreciate the chance to go deeper than they usually get a chance to…
1. What was an early experience that there is a Presence (God, Awe, Spirit)?
2. What words do you use to name the Divine? Share as many as you can think of. Another way to phrase this: “How do you call God?” Interesting ambiguity that permits a large range of answers.
3. What is your spiritual hunger at this moment?
4. As a youth, what was your early experience of being formed spiritually like? On your own, in your family, early experience in a religious community, church, etc. Try to think of the good parts: what were some benefits you took away?
5. Who is a spiritual inspiration to you, a mentor? What are the characteristics of the person that makes this so? Fictional, historical or someone you know…
6. In your religious experience, what are some of the things that didn’t sit well with you, that got in the way of your relationship with the Divine, with what had deepest meaning for you, or with your connection to the human family near and far?
7. Describe a particular time in your life when you discovered the spiritual life as something important to you, when you felt called to seek God, when you were aware you wanted to know more about “the spiritual life.”
8. Describe a time in your life when you felt out of touch with God, alienated, in a spiritual “dry spell,” or Dark Night of the Soul. A time when access to the Inner Light was missing.
9. Describe a time when you felt in harmony with the Divine Will, in synch with the Inner Light, “under the wings” of the Spirit, in “Gospel Order.”
10. Describe a time when you felt led, called to action by the Inner Light.
11. Why is the Society of Friends your choice of a spiritual community?
8:15 pm Debrief Concentric Circles (Worship Sharing)
• “What did you find out about yourself by doing this exercise?”
• “How was what you just experienced spiritually nurturing?” Perhaps discuss corporate spiritual nurture a bit. Quote: “If one may judge by the writers of early Quaker journals, it becomes evident that these pillar Friends rated spiritual nurture at the very top of Quaker spiritual virtues.” —Rufus Jones
• This might be a good time to present paper describing Parker Palmer’s Circles of Trust: “This is the core of what our program is about…”
8:45 pm Introduce the Program: Goals, Assumptions and Expectations, Structure, and
define Quaker Spiritual Formation, Agenda for Weekend (especially Saturday
morning spiritual practice groups). On Saturday afternoon you will be using the Conti-Entin PHP on Spiritual Disciplines that was mailed to you. Please make sure you have read it by then.
8:55 pm Closing (song, reading etc.)
9:00 pm Adjourn (Leaders assign people to reading and friendship/accountability groups (SF/AG))
7:00 am Spiritual Practices Groups (All) Workshop leaders, and volunteers from the group offer short workshop experiences of a variety of Spiritual Disciplines (examples include: Grand Silence; Quiet Nature Walk; Loving kindness Meditation; Examen,; Journaling and praying, Yoga or body prayer, Scripture reading, etc.)
8:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am Worship
9:20 am Assigning to Regional and SF/AG
9:30 am Introduction to SFAG (Resource: Margery Larrabee’s or Nancy Beiber’s paper)
9:45 am Telling our Stories (in SFAG) (Marty Grundy’s paper as guide)
(Journaling then sharing)
1. Your own experience of the Divine.
2. Your own deepest intention.
10:55 Telling our stories (all together in one group)
3. What supports?
4. What hinders?
11:20 am Spiritual Disciplines: Introduction )
11:30 am Practice a spiritual discipline:
Poems Along the Way: an exercise in practicing journal writing
Break into new, mixed groups of four (or five) randomly. All groups would be gathered in the same room, able to hear the leader.
11:35¾Leader: Read the poem aloud, Invite participants to share a word that stayed with them, moved them, or had resonance with them for whatever reason. As in worship sharing, people share as they are led with generous silence in between speakers.
11:45—Read the poem aloud again. Invite participants to share a phrase or image that stayed with them.
11:55¾Read the poem again and invite participants to write freely, about what is happening in this moment of your spiritual life: how is God speaking to you through this experience. Remember what William Stafford said; “No need to worry about writer’s block, just lower your standards”. In other words, write what comes: thoughts, associations, images. Begin if you like with a word or phrase from the poem and write it down again and again. Writing the same word or phrase again and again is fine. It’s a good contemplative practice. Keep in mind though that our brains hate repetition. Their natural inclination is to wander off. All we have to do as writers in this practice is to wander along with them, pen in hand.
12:10¾Read the poem aloud again. Then invite participants to read, as they feel led (as in worship sharing). Allow for generous periods of silence in between readings. Periods of silence in between readings allows for deep listening and for the words to settle.
¾Read the poem one last time.
12:15—End of exercise.
12:15 Debrief Journaling exercise (Worship Sharing)
12:30 noon Lunch/Free Time
2:30 pm Worship (Jeff)
2:50 pm Introduction to Devotional Reading and Reading Groups
3:05 pm Reading/Discussion Experience using Conti-Entin (In Reading Groups) (All)
4:30 pm Scheduling Group Meetings (calendars) (All)
5:30 pm Worship
6:00 pm Dinner
7:00 pm Read “In Prison, Yet Free” by Eva Hermann
7:30 pm Worship Sharing on this reading
8:00 pm Music or something else
9:00 pm Adjourn
7:00 am Spiritual Practice (All)
8:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am Worship
9:20 am Explain and model “Holding in the Light” (in SF/AG or Regional Groups, depending on size) exercise Use handout in packet.
The purpose of this exercise is to either experience being held in the light or to hold another in the light in your SF/AGs.
In small groups we will take time to hold each person in the Light, to pray for them and bless them silently and aloud. This can be a very wonderful experience and I encourage everyone to push beyond inhibitions and to pray for or bless one another generously and with a whole heart.
Doing this within an hour requires a disciplined procedure, as follows:
Form a small circle, with chairs close together and one in the center of the circle. A member of the group sits in the center chair. One member serves as clerk. The clerk asks if there is a special request. The person in the center may speak briefly. The clerk asks if the person welcomes being touched.
For six or seven minutes, the group holds the individual in the Light. Group members are encouraged to pray aloud or bless the individual.
Some suggested ways to do this—as moved by the Spirit:
Thank God for the gifts of this person, for the beauty of their soul, for what they have contributed to the gathering, etc.
Affirm that the loving spirit of God is always present with, to, and in this person.
Ask God to help, be present with, heal, console, or give attention to the special needs of this person..
Describe an image that may come to you during the silence
Express appreciation, affection, or love for the person; and/or faith in them.
The clerk says “Amen” to end the time of holding this person in the Light.
The focus person is given a minute to tell what their experience was like.
That person leaves the center chair and another person sits down and another person serves as clerk..
It is important to move from one person to the next, maintaining a quiet atmosphere of prayer during the change.
After all members of the group have had a time in the center, take hands around the
group for a moment of concluding prayer together.
If your group finishes early, speak quietly so as not to be disruptive to other groups.
9:40 am Break
9:55 am Holding in the Light exercise (SF/AG) (All)
11:00 am Process Holding in Light (Large Group)
11:15 am Concluding business (how to stay in touch, how to deal with problems etc.)
11:30 am Worship
12:00 Lunch and farewell