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News from the School of the Spirit Ministry 
March 2009
In This Issue
For Your Meeting's Listserv and Newsletter
'Centering and Settling into the Silence' with Quaker Children
Remembering Marti Guenin
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Dear Reader,

March is a very active month for the School of the Spirit Ministry.  So I invite your prayers for:

   the Fundraising Steering Committee which will meet for their opening retreat March 11-13 -- may their time together and the work on which they are embarking be guided by the Holy Spirit;

   the core teachers of the Spiritual Nurturer program and all those who will join their Q&A call in on March 15 -- may their listening and words invite all to the Inward Teacher;

   all those who will attend The Way of Ministry program's third residency at Pendle Hill, March 18-22 -- may all hearts be opened;

   all those who will attend the Testing the Waters retreat at Alexandria Friends on March 28 -- may way open for all who are seeking God's abiding love.

In this Snapshots, we celebrate John Carle's ministry with children and the life of Marti Guenin, a member of the 2006 class of the Spiritual Nurturer program.  I also invite you to copy announcements (see below) for the upcoming Q&A Call In and the Testing the Waters retreat and place them on your Meeting's listserv and into your Meeting's newsletter. Thanks!

Michael Green
For Your Meeting's Listserv and Newsletter

Please post the following to your Meeting's listserv and, if timely, newsletter. Thank you!

* * * * *
A School of the Spirit Ministry Q&A Call In
Sunday, March 15, beginning at 7 p.m. (EST)

Have you been curious about the School of the Spirit Ministry? How its programs serve the Religious Society of Friends? Whether now is the time for you to take one of its programs? Then join the core teachers of the Spiritual Nurturer program in this question and answer call in.

Call (404) 920-6699 and enter code 957 156 4493 #

* * * * *

Testing the Waters
A Retreat Day
Saturday, March 28, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm at the Alexandria Friends Meeting

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 practice of deep listening and of individual formation within community. Much more information about the program can be found at www.schoolofthespirit.org or by calling Mike Green at (919) 929-2339.

From 'Centering and Settling into the Silence' with Quaker Children (Ages 7-12)
by John Carle

[This is an extract from John's first research paper as a member of the Spiritual Nurturer program, class of 2008.  This section describes a first-day school class to help children learn about silence and centering.]

Read out loud: Abby Hadley's, We're Going to Meeting for Worship
In the story that was just read, what caught your attention?

         ("It was funny when he looked around to see if someone was sleeping." "I liked that he thought about a quiet place.")

Everyone here has gone into the Meeting Room at the end of worship for about 10 minutes, right?. What do you think has been happening in the Meeting Room during the 50 minutes, while you were out here in class?

         ("The adults are sitting." "They're sleeping." "They're waiting for God to talk to them - individually." "If God talks to them, they will get up and tell everyone else what God said." "They're bored!")

If they are really bored or constantly falling asleep, do you honestly think they would keep coming back to Meeting each week?

          ("No!" "Good point, John.")

Between the physical act of sitting down, getting comfortable on the bench, closing their eyes and waiting with God, a process is taking place. From the moment your parents and other Friends decide where to sit, a process, or transition, begins.  Everyone who is in the Meeting Room will feel what goes on during this process differently, even if only slightly. In order for you to experience what I am talking about, let's close our eyes and keep them closed until I ask you a question.
                        I hear - I forget
                        I see - I remember
                        I do - I understand
                                    -- Chinese Proverb (xiii)
What did you experience while you had your eyes closed? What did you see or feel?

         ("Animals - my pets." "    A lot of things - all messed up." "Food!" "The homework I have to do when I get home." "Which nail polish I'll pick for my nails.")

Have you ever seen a small globe with snow in it with a scene?

         (Everyone had owned at least one. They were described in detail!)

What do you do with it? How does it work?

         ("You turn it upside down and the snow flies all over the place.")

Okay. Let's each of us shake the globe, put it on the table and describe what happens.

         ("It settles at the bottom." "It takes awhile." "The snow gets deeper at the bottom." "You have to hold it very still or some of the snow flies up again and you have to wait until it settles down." "To keep the snow at the bottom, I have to be still, calm, careful, treat it gently." "I gently put it back on the table and watch it." "I don't hold it. If I held it, I would have to be concentrating very hard. I would get tense and have a headache.")

Is the table part of the process of getting the snow to settle down?

         ("Yes, otherwise I wouldn't be able to do it.")

Describe the steps involved from beginning to end.

         ("You pick it up and shake it." "You put it back on the table." "You watch the snow settle." "Fall asleep.")

Should we include falling asleep in the process?

         ("No. I was just fooling around.")

What you just told us visually describes what happens in Meeting for Worship when you sit down, close your eyes and wait for God.

         ("I don't like to close my eyes. There's too much going on in my brain.")

A Quaker Friend of mine doesn't like to close her eyes either. She stares at the back of the bench in front of her, or a spot on the floor. Would that work for you?

         ("I'll stare at a spot on the floor.")

Generally, attending Meeting for Worship is visually a similar process as shaking the snow globe and watching the snow settle to the bottom. Walking into Meeting for Worship and sitting down is represented by picking up the globe off the table. Shaking it and setting it back down on the table is like taking in a deep breath and exhaling. The snow flying all over the scene reminds us of all the thoughts that are going on in our heads - like homework, food, family, pets or friends. The snow slowly, quietly, settles into a resting position at the bottom of the globe, which represents us waiting in a quiet place within for God. What might happen with the globe next?

John's paper may be read in its entirety here.  You can also view a file of pictures drawn by his FDS class.
Remembering Marti Guenin

Marti Those of us who participated in the 2006 class of On Being a Spiritual Nurturer were particularly blessed to have known Marti Guenin.  Although she died in January 2009, a short year after her diagnosis of brain cancer, many of us can still hear her infectious laughter and frequent, enthusiastic "Thanks be to God" echoing in our lives.
Marti had a wonderful sense of humor, an active curiosity and openness to new experiences which led her to many new places, both geographic and intellectual. She was committed to the wellbeing of the earth, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Heifer Project and hoped to re-claim the family farm for non-profit use. She had a rich life of accomplishment.  She was an ordained Methodist minister, a teacher of children with learning disabilities, and in later life, an administrator at an institution of higher learning, as well as a jazz aficionado.  Over the time we knew her, we learned of her deep compassion and caring for her elderly friend, Virginia, who, Marti said taught her a great deal about aging.  We also appreciated Marti's quiet caring for each one of us:  we learned at the end the program, that before each residency, Marti had gone to each of our rooms and said prayers of blessings.
But above all, we were nourished by Marti's deep river of Spiritual grounding which was fed by her committed prayer life. She was rooted in the Scriptures, in Christ, and intentionally chose a celibate life as the best spiritual path for herself. 
After the discovery of her brain tumor, Marti shared with some of us how much she thought God had used the Spiritual Nurturer program to prepare her for coping with her illness.  Especially her experience of the silence of Quaker worship helped, whether in dealing with an MRI or in finding deep inward strength.  Whatever helped her, the courage with which she faced her dying inspired those with whom she shared that year.

Thanks be to God for you, Marti!

From the Spiritual Nurturer program, class of 2006

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.

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Document last modified on Friday, 10-Apr-2009 11:58:05 EDT