the publication by FGC Books of Sandra Cronk’s journals and selected writings
under the title A Lasting Gift, we are given to remember and honor the founding
charism of this ministry as it was brought forth by its founders, Sandra ("Sonnie") and Kathryn Damiano.
her introduction to Sonnie's journals, Marty Grundy writes:
Many lives have been touched by
Sandra Cronk’s writing, teaching, spiritual direction, and mentoring. Her life
gives witness to a profound understanding of a life lived in Christ. It, along
with her teaching and spiritual companioning, provides a model for individual
lives and raises a prophetic voice to the corporate body of the Religious
Society of Friends.
also quotes from Kathryn Damiano’s draft proposal for the founding of this
This ministry arises from two
concerns. The first is a recognition that God is leading some Friends to a life
centered in prayer as an active witness in the world. (This leading parallels
the way in which God calls certain Friend to work in such areas as peace and
social justice.) This call to prayer is not a privatized or withdrawn life, but
a life lived with God and shared with others. Prayer opens us to God’s presence
and draws us into Christ’s work of healing the broken and wounded places in our
lives and in our world.
The second consideration grows out
of the awareness that many people, both inside and outside the Religious Society
of Friends, have been yearning for avenues through which they might explore,
more intentionally, the role of prayer and contemplation in a life of faith.
Many Friends have also expressed a need for doing serious reflection and study
on ministry and the call to live in faithful relationship with God. They would
like to do this work within the context of a community of prayerful commitment.
died in April 2000, just before the final residency of the fourth Spiritual
Nurturer class. Following that class, Kathryn moved to Kansas and married
Dorlan Bales (pictured below). She
shares with Snapshots her life there.
School of the Spirit ministry has endured and has had a variety of incarnations
since it was first given to us as a leading in the late 1980's. I am
remembering one particular "Spirit storming" (a term borrowed
from Bill Taber) near a former Shaker settlement where Sonnie and I
were attending a conference. Here we fleshed out the need and function of
oversight groups for the "On Being a Spiritual Nurturer"
offering. Much faithfulness has been called forth to continue this
ministry that was first entrusted to us. For this I am thankful.
my continued call to the contemplative life, I hold "The School of the
Spirit" ministry in the Light of Christ. As some of you may know, I
moved to Kansas in 1999 where I joined The Friends of Jesus Community and
married Dorlan Bales in June 2000. This intentional community, a ministry
of presence in a low income neighborhood of Wichita, was layed down a few years
ago. For the last four years Dorlan and I have been building
a high thermal mass passive solar home. We have done much of
the construction ourselves. I am also discovering what grows in
Kansas and am using drought resistant native plants for the landscaping.
also offer spiritual direction and teach in-depth spiritual life studies in a
variety of venues. I have been studying the work of Ken Wilber for some
years now and along with others are envisioning an Integral Christianity.
Amazingly, I find myself teaching Quakerism at its best to those who
will never be Friends. I'm finding that Quaker spirituality has many
integral characteristics and often folks from a variety of traditions, who
have outgrown their own traditions, are attracted to the spiritual
maturity Quakerism can offer. I can imagine the Quaker
spiritual ancestors being pleased that the original Quaker revelation
has returned to a movement for those who continue to
seek. Please pray for me as I walk more deeply in the Mystery of all
Deep A Silent Retreat at Powell House
From Friday, 15 January, 2010 -
To Monday, 18 January, 2010 - 2:00pm
During this extended weekend, Friends are invited to enter
more fully into the silence and to experience the deeper rhythms in which we
might live. This retreat will include the opportunity for solitude,
individual and corporate worship, silent meals, and “active” silence.
There will also be opportunities for individual and group spiritual
reflection. Come and simply BE with God; listen and attend to the
Divine stirrings of the soul.
a member of Housatonic Meeting, is a recorded minister in New York Yearly
Meeting. She carries a concern for spiritual nurture and pastoral
care. Linda has served as clerk of NYYM and is currently serving on the
School of the Spirit board.
serving as Linda’s elder, is a member of Gwynedd
Friends Meeting in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. She serves on the board
of The School of the Spirit.
Register by January 1st: $280 ($300 after January 1, 2010)
On Paying Attention, by Noah Baker-Merrill
Noah Baker-Merrill completed The
Way of Ministry program earlier this year. These paragraphs open his recent
article in the November 2009 issue of Friends Journal.
It's January of 2009 in a
Philadelphia lockup, cell number 13. I'm worshiping in captivity, in the quiet,
cold hours before dawn. The last time I was in prison, I was visiting Iraqi
refugees detained in Jordan. Both that place and this one seem very far from
where I live in Vermont. But God's love is here, and that makes it home.
I'm exhausted, aching from the cold
steel bench I've been sharing with three other ministers for hours in the long
night. Four men, space for two to sit and one to lie down, one toilet, and dry
cheese sandwiches. The stories, the laughter, the asking and the answering, the
songs of surrender and praise we'd earlier shared are silent now.
In a few hours, I am to learn I will
be charged with several crimes for prayerfully obstructing access to the door
of a business that supplies weapons used to kill people in the streets of
Philadelphia. These charges will include "criminal conspiracy."
I'm reflecting on how I've ended up
in prison, a place where so many of our spiritual ancestors were held as they
sought to respond faithfully to the leadings of the Spirit in their lives.
Spirit and Me since SN6, by Penelope Wright
(Penelope completed the Spiritual Nurturer program in 2006. She is a member of Hanover Monthly Meeting, NH.)
is our closing worship, for the last time we gather as this beloved community
to honor each other and God. We hope to go out and serve God. As my
heart-friends speak hesitantly and confidently of what they understand they are
called to do, I listen in wonderment. For I have no clarity at all how God
might use me. A bit of a nudge suggests that I am called to serve the Religious
Society of Friends through strengthening and deepening the spiritual lives of
monthly meetings. How is the mystery. An image of peaceful being comes to me, I
am standing on the edge of a golden, breeze tousled field of grain - tall trees
visible on the far side, I await the parting of the grain to show me the path
to God's call.
some things I am certain;
- I have been
taught and tested by that mantra/quote from old F/friend Isaac Penington:
"...be no more than God hath made
thee. Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over
thine own desiring to know, or to be any thing, and sink down to the seed
which God sows in the heart; and let that grow in thee, and be in thee,
and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shall find by sweet
experience, that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that..."
- I will be
sorting through and divesting myself of remnants of a life of 30+ years
that has both fed me and sorrowed me
- I will be
returning home, back to that "thin place" where I feel at one with Divine
and mortal, terrestrial and celestial.
- I will be
embarking on a totally new adventure - assisting in the design of and
general contracting the construction of the home of our dreams
- With that move I
will be seeking to find my place in a new meeting, eased by the loving
letter of introduction given by my birth meeting.
few months ago, I awoke from a dream, realizing that I no longer stood on the
edge of that field! By some means, I now stood near the center, no visible
evidence of how I got there, but in my heart I believe I was faithful to that earlier,
puzzling nudge. With uncharacteristic patience and guidance from a new Care and
Accountability Committee, I am finding my place in my new meeting: a full
member after asking for a clearness committee to consider transfer of
membership (not the usual process of this meeting); as co-facilitator of well
received series of Exploring Quakerism based on the series led in my former
meeting as a testing of one way to deepen the spiritual life of a meeting; as
member Ministry & Counsel where my main contribution has been to introduce
the approval and recording of the minutes in the face of the meeting; and as
back up provider of snacks for post worship fellowship. I am learning the joys
of being in a yearly meeting that has quarters and how that provides
Opportunities. I am pleased to have been appointed by my yearly meeting to
continue serving on the Central Committee of Friends General Conference, which
has long been a blessed and cherished school of the spirit for me.
husband is fond of teasing me about being a perpetual student. In the past that
usually meant academic endeavors, but now I find more and more that my learning
is in that ethereal school of the Spirit.
© 2009, the School of the Spirit Ministry