On the Overall Program:
You will never have a way of knowing what this program has meant to me. It came along at an absolutely ideal moment in my life—it was truly a Way Opening for me. Thank you all for all of your hard work in putting this all together. God bless all of you, as you have blessed me with the gift of this program.
My clarity/understanding of my own beliefs deepened significantly.
I have expanded my understanding of my own faith journey—where I was, where I think I am, and where I think I want to go.
I’m more open and trusting, less guarded and suspicious. Feel that this has helped me grow into myself.
I’ve become a better listener, and that I have learned some patience for myself and for others. I’m more comfortable with letting others be where they are and don’t feel the need to change them or their opinions.
I feel like I have more clarity, confidence and authority as I think and talk about my spiritual experience.
On Reading Groups:
As a universalist Friend, Christo-centric readings forced me to “look for the meaning beneath the words/theology”—a challenging and very rewarding experience for me. I’m much more able to 1) seek common ground with those whose beliefs differ from mine and 2) and find ways to express my beliefs in ways that don’t put “others” teeth on edge. I have fewer buttons for Christo-centric Friends to push and have real language to use which makes it far easier to have real dialogue. Now, instead of saying, “I don’t believe that” I say “Here is how I experience prayer (as an example), what words do you use or how would you describe it?”
I loved the readings—whether I agreed with the writers or not; the experience of reading as a group and then gathering to share/compare notes was marvelous, I learned so much more about people I already knew (including myself), and it was a door into the hearts of those I had just met.
They [the readings] opened new doors for me and gave me new ways of thinking about things. They were often challenging in a number of ways. Some of them made a deep impact on my thinking.
On Friendship/Accountability Groups:
My accountability group was very helpful, spiritually and in other ways as well. There was and is a level of personal trust there that was invaluable.
The small groups made me dig deeper for a way to acknowledge and articulate my faith—still working on this one—maybe forever! And the challenge of translation—i.e. my own brand of translation from a Catholic childhood base; to an Eastern philosophy then thru Quakerism, etc. etc. and hearing others’ transitions.
It [friendship/accountability group] could be very intense and in some ways frightening. I feared it and hungered for it. My group was wonderful and I learned to open up as a result of their openness and care. Found that I’ve come to love them.
It was very helpful to my spiritual life—opening new doors and new ways to think about things.
Last winter I become a member of the Society of Friends. Being in the Spiritual Formation Program was wonderful opportunity for me to reflect on and share my spiritual experience. And at the same time listen to others’ experience—and most importantly share and be present to one another.
On Spiritual Disciplines:
I explored walking first thing in the morning—it has been glorious. I loved the encouragement to find the practice/discipline which helped me experience God’s love.
SF revived my commitment to journaling and yoga/meditation and also turned me on to “mindfulness walking” which I realize I did (undefined of course) as a child—walking in the woods to regain my equilibrium from difficult family dynamics.
Choosing a spiritual practice was central to my experience…I chose walking meditation followed by journaling. Walking connects me with nature (the Earth is central to who I am) and journaling helps me clarify the swirling nature of my thoughts and record my prayers for future reference.