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News from the School of the Spirit Ministry 
February 2009
In This Issue
Q&A Call In and Testing the Waters
Statement of Faith, by Louise
God's Passion, by John
Prayers, by Viv
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Dear Reader,

In this issue we celebrate the life and love of Louise Harris, a graduate of the Spiritual Nurturer class of 2008, who died on January 17. Louise was our teacher. In the loving community of that class, she found the space to heal and forgive. When diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she found herself freed from earthly concerns and she shone with God's unflinching love. Those who knew her intimately--her husband John and sister Eleanor--recognized, as did we all, that this was not a denial of death, but a celebration of life. In addition to sharing with you her final papers, we include John's message of passion which he read at her memorial. We send our love and prayers to John and Eleanor, and all those who will miss her.

The condition of the economy is impacting each of our lives. This is true too for organizations such as ours. Since we rent retreat space for our programs, we plan up to 3 years ahead. So if you are interested in participating in either the two-year program On Being a Spiritual Nurturer or the one-year program The Way of Ministry, it would be a great service to us if you would complete this survey.

As always, please share this newsletter with a friend or two. Just use the link to the left.

Michael Green
Q&A Call In and Testing the Waters Retreat

Are you in the midst of discerning whether or not this is your year to apply to the Spiritual Nurturer program?  Are the scheduled Testing the Waters retreats inconvenient for you?  Then consider joining the core teachers in a question and answer Call In on Sunday, March 15, beginning at 7 p.m. (EST). 

Click here for details of the Q&A Call In.

In this call, the teachers will respond to your spiritual, as well as your practical questions.  The intent is to assist you in your discernment, not to recruit you to the program. 

As a reminder, there is a Testing the Waters day-long retreat at Alexandria Friends Meeting, VA, on March 28. 

The requested donation for each day is $25. To register, please send us an email with your contact information and indicating for which retreat day you are registering.

For the prospectus and to download the application and scholarship forms, please visit our website.

Statement of Faith by Louise Harris

Louise Harris

Toward the end of the Spiritual Nurturer program, each participant is asked to write a statement of faith.  Here are a few sentences from Louise's statement which she wrote last November.  

"At this point in my life, I have recently gotten a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. From the first, I felt very free. I knew that God was with me and in every cell in my body, that there were no good cells or bad cells.  God is in the entire universe, in the winds, snows, smiles of children, sorrows and pains, animals and the creepy crawly things of the earth.  God has just given this to me as another challenge, never leaving me alone one moment.  I see no duality between death and life, enabling me to potentially live each day afresh."

For a 5-minute audio meditation with her complete statement, click here. (Unfortunately we do not have it read in her own voice and inimitable style.) It can also be read here.

Louise's paper on forgiveness can be read here.

God's Passion: A Memorial Message by John Cardarelli

I love you with a fierceness
Blackberry juice lining throats, aftertaste of wild sweet savor,
Morphing butterflies dancing wildly in the sun,
Red-tailed hawk mewing its presence
Silently winging.
Sentinel huckleberry tree, blueberry vibrant on windswept ridge
Your loving on logging trail beneath BrownMountain blue lights.
Pileated Pair.

John's complete message can be read here.
Prayers by Viv Hawkins

(Viv wrote these prayers following the second residency of The Way of Ministry program in December 2008.)

Most High One who enfolds us in You and You in us, thank You.  Thank You for the tension that contained so many interlocking pieces:
         The struggle to open the way so we may see and be seen, hear and be heard, love and be loved by each other as well as You.
         Brueggemann... cry (evoke alternative) doxology... criticism and energizing.
         Something is here that I can't know yet.  I feel it inside and around me rattling like the valve on a pressure cooker.  How do I and we open?
         The willingness for two of us to wrestle in hard places.  I know how to disappear.  The other knows how, also.  Tears keep me open.  The other keeps her seat.  Grace happens.
         With my peer group, I share about the beggars to whom I gave Rs 3 (6 cents) in India.  I labor knowing that giving anything short of my life is sin.  They help me see through tearful eyes the true exchange: "I see you and I love you."  I forgive myself.
         Looking unabashedly into the soft, gentle eyes of one who loves largely.  Having those eyes look trustfully into mine.  Being asked what I see there.  Love.  Imagining that God might bestow me with one iota of that love so I might pass it on.  Tears flow.
         Lamentation calls forth the depths of my pain and longing.  My whole body shakes with the sobs, the yearning for life, for the Kindom of All.  How long?
         I know the struggle with otherness in many places.  It torments me again.  I pray with my prayer partner "to be and be with."  Keep your seat.
         The diagram shows me the other I have most difficulty taking in. Keep your seat.
         Refiner's fire ablaze.  One blow does not extinguish it.  Terrified I'll burn down the building.  Fearing myself.  Breath of God.  Relief. 
         Crouched in the corner of that large room swaddled in "grand silence," I assume the small, disappearing place.  I keep my seat there healing, preparing.
         Coaxing the cry to mature and fulfill itself.  Reaching out, being heard, lovingly received.  Blessed, broken, given, and received.  Communion.  Ahhhhhh.  Release.
         Exorcism.  While love may be the first motion, it does not always appear as love.  It sometimes manifests as criticism.  For one who fears being feared or mistrusted, criticism can be a self-sacrificial love, risking the self's need for the greater good. 
         Death and resurrection.  God of all the nations, help us know when we are called to leave the dead to bury the dead, call forth Lazarus, or come upon the tomb where the stone is rolled away?  Lament evoking doxology.  "And when the day is done and I see the setting sun, I will lift my voice and say, 'Thank You, Lord, thank You for one more day.  Thank you for one more day.'"
         Self-in-God-sibling-community.  The wine is spilled into the Infinite and we flow there.
Praise You, Blessed One.  Praise these blessed ones who serve You in preparing The Way of Ministry, in preparing us all, Your servants. 

I came to residency 2 to learn about the ministry: that which we do.  I mostly learned about myself, God, and our relations with community: that which we are.  The latter is far greater a pearl to me.  Thank you, Beckey.  Thank you, Laura.  Thank you, Marcelle.  Thank you, Barbarajene and Katharine. 

Thank You, God.  Now, will you let me sleep until at least 6:30am, again.  These three o'clock in the morning appointments are killing me!

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, 10-Apr-2009 11:58:05 EDT