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News from the School of the Spirit Ministry 
May 2009
In This Issue
Testing the Waters at Gwynedd Friends
Listen to the Earth
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Dear Reader,

The School of the Spirit Ministry's mission statement states that we are "dedicated to helping all who wish to be more faithful listeners and responders to the inward work of Christ."  Being more faithful often means a burning away of that which distracts us -- internally and externally -- from listening to where our feet are grounded.  In the cleansing process the self becomes both less and so much more.  Christ's love reveals itself from behind the mask we have held up for so long.  Time and again in our programs, we witness fear and shyness transformed into a Light that makes Love more visible to all.  The voice of the prophet then speaks.

In this and the next couple of issues of Snapshots, we will feature the voice of the artist.  In this issue Nan Bowles, a participant in the most recent class of On Being a Spiritual Nurturer, makes more transparent the boundary between herself and the natural world around her.  The loving abundance of nature becomes the love that she embodies.  Through her eye, the boundary between Christ in me and Christ in the world dissolves.

We look forward to a
Testing the Waters retreat at Gwynedd Meeting in Philadelphia on May 16th, to receiving applications for the next class of the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program by the 25th, and to the last residency of The Way of Ministry from the 21st to the 25th. May all be faithful listeners and responders to the inward work of Christ.

Michael Green

Testing the Waters Retreat at Gwynedd Friends in Philadelphia

Please post the following to your Meeting's listserv.
Thank you!

Testing the Waters

A Retreat Day
Facilitated by core teachers of the School of the Spirit Ministry

Saturday, May 16, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm at the Gwynedd Friends Meeting
in Philadelphia

This retreat day will be facilitated by the core teachers of the School of the Spirit Ministry's program "On Being a Spiritual Nurturer." The retreat day is intended for those discerning whether they are led to apply to the two-year program beginning in September 2009. Friends seeking a short retreat are also very welcome. There is a requested $25 donation at the door.

The program "On Being a Spiritual Nurturer," now gathering its eighth class from across the country, is designed for those led to pay particular attention to God's transforming, guiding, and healing work. The program is grounded in the traditional Quaker practices of deep listening and of individual formation within community.

The program begins in September 2009 with an application deadline of May 25. Late applications may be considered. Scholarships are available.

Much more information about the program can be found at www.schoolofthespirit.org or by contacting Mike Green at (919) 929-2339 or info@schoolofthespirit.org.

"Whatever Spirit felt led to do within me during my two years with you folks in the Spiritual Nurturer program, this Testing the Waters retreat expanded upon it in ways I will be living into for years to come.  It felt as if we were gathered and covered with a protective film within God's presence.  At Meeting for Worship the next day, the Meeting House was tingling."
(Person-of-Presence, Testing the Waters at Alexandria and a past participant, On Being a Spiritual Nurturer)

Listen to the Earth by Nan Bowles
Circle of seasons
Rhythms come and rhythms go
Do we feel the heartbeat of the Earth?
Do we feel the heartbeat of the Earth?
I want to live the rhythms of the Earth, our Earth, our home, the Blue Planet.  I live those rhythms by listening, by opening myself to the feelings and sensations of the Earth.  Smelling the air just after it has rained, or feeling warm sunlight upon my skin. Tasting the raindrop on the tip of the pine needle.  Watching the weaving of clouds as the days come and go.  Paying attention to the changing seasons, or the change in light through out the day.  Asking myself, "Where is the moon in its monthly cycle?  Does the full moon rise in the same place each season?  How about the crescent moon?"  These are some of the queries I live into. 

In taking time to listen and be, there is movement into a place of deep stillness within.  From this place I might feel the voice of Grandmother Live Oak tree say, "Go forth and be clear," or hear the swamp water of the deep woods speak of how it is spiced with the essence of forest leaves and pine needles.  There is an inner knowing that Spirit is speaking to me through the oak tree or the swamp water.

Living is feeling the rhythms of the earth, the pulse of Life and connecting to that of God in all of it.  Listen and be open to the teachings of God through the Earth around us. To commune with the Earth and listen is to know I am not better than the lizard or the fly. If I think I am better I will never hear their message no matter how long I sit and wait.  We might do well to pay attention to the life around us and listen to what lessons others have to tell us. The time I spend walking the land at home or somewhere else; or time spent sitting and being; or feeling the rhythm of breathing are moments when I am listening.  It is about becoming familiar with the sounds, sights, smells and feelings of the earth, plants, animals, cloud shapes of the community that is home.  It is about living the rhythms of the Earth through the framework of the Quaker way of life; by applying the teachings of Friends to include all of our planet.  Living life through the Spirit of the Universe, the Creator, the Living Presence that is all. The One of all shapes and no shape.  And so the Divine one appears even in the mundane parts of life. 

Are we afraid of touching Creation and one another?

Bowles, Blue Heron

Nan's entire essay, as well as six of the short audio meditations read by her, is available on our Web site: Nan is a member of Friendship Monthly Meeting in Greensboro, attends the worship group in Beaufort, NC, and completed the program On Being a Spiritual Nurturer in November 2008.

Nan is available to come to your meeting community with a ministry which invites participants to connect their inner spiritual life to the abundant natural world where they live.  Through watercolors, photographs, and storytelling she invites you into her natural world -- the marshes of eastern North Carolina -- making more transparent the boundary between self and other.  For more information, contact her at nanbowles@ec.rr.com.

River Dart 1
A Ministry of Prayer and Learning devoted to the School of the Spirit
is dedicated to all who wish to be more faithful listeners and responders to the inward work of Christ.

Donations are always welcome. Checks may be sent to the address below, made out to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting earmarked for the School of the Spirit.

A Ministry of Prayer and Learning devoted to the School of the Spirit is a ministry under the care of
the Worship and Care Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
the School of the Spirit Ministry | c/o 1306 Hillsborough Road | Chapel Hill | NC | 27516

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Document last modified on Friday, 22-May-2009 10:09:39 EDT