the School of the Spirit Ministry's Quarterly Newsletter
To turn all we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the Work of our lives.
These words of John Woolman echo through this issue of Snapshots. Herein are Friends who have given themselves over to their God-given Great Work: Patty Levering to revealing the word of God in Scripture, Linda Chidsey to leading others to God through silence, and Angela Manno to proclaiming the sacredness of all life through art.
Discovering what God wishes for each of us always takes a courageous first step, whether or not we know it. And so we hold in the Light all those who are about to embark on a two-year journey in the next class of the Spiritual Nurturer program.
We celebrate God's intention through the lives of these dear Friends.
(Snapshots welcomes submissions of articles, news of events, and profiles, such as Angela's, from past program participants. Please email us.)
I am the Way, the Truth, and Life
The Bible Half-Hour at the Summer Gathering of Friends General Conference, 2009
Patty Levering, a core teacher for the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program, gave the series of five Bible half-hour talks at this summer's gathering of Friends General Conference (FGC). These talks are to be published by FGC in due course. With FGC's permission, included below is a short passage from her fifth talk. You can listen to a longer extract here.
What do we do with the Gospel of John having Jesus say, "I am
the way, the truth, and life."?
Remember, I told you that John is not written to be an
historical record. Did Jesus really say those words? I have no idea, but that isn't important.
John writes so that we might have life and have it
abundantly. So that we might believe. So that Jesus' joy might be in us and our
joy may be complete. So that we might have an experience of the heart that changes how
we live. So that we might receive a wonderful treasure.
What is being offered here is not a propositional statement
that we have to believe literally or historically. It is John's way of entering us into the mystery of
God. Of having us experience the union
with God that Jesus loves.
I want to explain this assertion by looking at more of the
Gospel of John and by making a connection with some basic Quaker experiences.
This verse is only one of the "I am" statements in
John. The statements are reminding us of
who God is, and giving us the experiential connection between Jesus and
Yahweh-God. When Moses asks God who he is, God says, "YHWH," an unpronounceable name
which we have made sound like "Yaweh" or "Jehovah" and which is often translated as
"I am who I am" or just "I am."
So when we hear Jesus say "I am" there is an automatic
connection with that beginning story of faith as it reminds us who the Father
is. This connection is reinforced in other "I am" statements,
such as "I am the bread of life." Remember the manna in the desert? "I am the light of the world. I am the good shepherd."
We may still be squirming about Jesus' claim uniting or
equating himself with God. But look at what I
see further on in Chapter 14 and Chapter 15.
In chapter 14, verse 10, Jesus says, "Do you not believe
that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?" And then in Chapter 15, verse 4, he says, "Abide in me, as I abide in you."
I see here Jesus as human and divine, telling us the very
same relationship that he has with the Father is available to us. "I am in the Father
and the Father is in me. Abide in me as
I abide in you."
This being one with God is more basic than we are likely to
have fully comprehended.
Now, here's where I want to bring in about being Quaker, and
I hope it will help you understand what I've just been reading.
[Listen to the 9-minute audio excerpt of Patty's Bible Half-Hour from which this piece was taken.]
Living from the Divine Center
A Contemplative Retreat, June 19-22, 2009
Friends attended the contemplative retreat, co-sponsored by Powell House and this Ministry. Ernie Buscemi
served as elder to Linda Chidsey (in Carolyn Moon's absence), and Ann Davidson,
Powell House director, joined the group on Saturday, and a participant from the last Spiritual Nurturer program who
lives locally joined the group for dinner and the opening session Friday
began Friday evening with introductions and a time of sharing about what had drawn
Friends to the retreat and their intentions/desires for the retreat.
Gilbert Kilpack's The Idea of a Retreat (available at our website) had been shared beforehand and
Linda spoke about the history and purpose of both the silent and contemplative
retreats. Ernie shared her leading and understanding of service in the
role of elder.
years the contemplative retreat has tended to incorporate more silence than
indicated in the letter which was sent to Friends in advance. This posed
a challenge for some attending for the first time, particularly those who had
planned to meet as a small group within the context of the full retreat group.
This matter was discussed on the first evening and accommodations were
made so that the needs of all might best be met.
included morning and evening worship, chores in (relative!) silence, active
silence, quiet conversation, lectio divina, personal retreat time, one-on-one
meetings with retreat leaders for those who desired, and spiritual reflection
groups. Ann Davidson offered hands-on healing opportunities on Saturday
for lectio this year was Healing and Reconciliation - healing within, in
relationships, in society and the world, with the Earth. The final
morning Friends shared reflections on how they hoped and intended to
incorporate significant insights/openings/practices experienced during the
retreat when they returned home. Many shared experiences of healing
during the weekend: the finding of God again after the loss of a loved one; the
opportunity to grieve; to sing; to rest; to connect with nature; to listen
inwardly and care for oneself and for one another.
the weekend the image of "riding a wave of the Spirit" was given to the leaders
as they sought faithfully to ground and hold the contemplative basis of the
retreat while responding to both individual and group needs. We are in
unity that it was a most enjoyable and amazing ride!
Chidsey and Ernie Buscemi
Linda Chidsey, 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 recently served as clerk of NYYM. She was also a participant in the first class of the School of the Spirit Ministry's program On Being a Spiritual Nurturer and has served on its Board for many years.
Dwelling Deep: An Extended Meeting for Worship
January 15-18, 2010 at Powell House
No childcare for this conference
Registration will soon be available at the Powell House website.
An Eighth On Being a Spiritual Nurturer Class
Please hold these Friends in their intention and leading to deepen their response to God's call in their lives, particularly as they gather for the first residency on September 16.
Annis (West Knoxville
Appalachian YM & Assn.)
Basham (Chena Ridge MM, Alaska Friends
Caldwell (Palm Beach MM, Southeastern YM)
Carr (Nashville MM, Southern Appalachian
YM & Assn.)
Coker (Raleigh MM, Piedmont Friends
Cox (Goose Creek MM, Baltimore YM)
Dingman (Durham MM, North Carolina
Flanigan (Gwynedd MM, Philadelphia YM)
Geiser (Reading MM, Philadelphia YM)
Ginsburg (West Grove MM, North Carolina
Gould (Salem Worship Group, North Carolina
Greenland (Plymouth MM, Philadelphia YM)
Greenway (Gwynedd MM, Philadelphia YM)
Kniffin (St. Mary's
Episcopal, Asheville, NC)
Laughter (Brooklyn MM, New York YM)
(Fresh Pond MM, New England YM)
Olson-Kennedy (Davidson MM, North Carolina
Purvis (Chapel Hill MM, Piedmont Friends
Ryan (Reading MM, Philadelphia YM)
Sobie (Episcopal, Asheville, NC)
Wilcox (Freedom Friends
Willett (Richmond MM, Baltimore YM)
Wutka (Atlanta MM, Southern Appalachian
YM & Assn.)
MM = Monthly Meeting
YM = Yearly Meeting
* also of Piedmont Friends Fellowship
Please also hold the core teachers, Carole Treadway, Patty Levering, and Mike Green. They will be joined in the first residency by Carolyn Moon (Gwynedd MM, Philadelphia YM) as person-of-presence, and traveling minister Lloyd Lee Wilson and his companion Charlie Ansell (both of Rich Square MM, North Carolina YM-Conservative).
At the last
residency of the On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program (November 2008), I had this dream:
The winds are
blowing at a crossroads. I am trying to catch the current so I can fly. All I
have to do is hold out my arms with my palms facing forward and I will be lifted
up, like a kite. A man tells me the wind is coming from another direction. I
resist -- I don't want to go in that direction. However, if I want to fly, I
have to face this other direction. Finally I do and I am lifted
Of all the things I learned during the two-year Spiritual Nurturer
program, the most important is the necessity to remain open to Spirit.
Thomas Berry, the
great cultural historian and "geologian" who passed away the first of June, left
us with the vision of a collective Great Work, that of developing a
"mutually-enhancing human-Earth relationship." "We will go into the future
together," he said, "as one single sacred
community, or perish together in the desert."
My passion for over 20
years has been to transmit this urgent message through my art and life. In
coming to School of the Spirit, I thought I would discern my next step and be
strengthened in that resolve. What resulted instead was my taking up what I have
begun to call "my little great work," that is, the healing of my own
heart and mind. Self-care became an aspect of Earth-care and my art began to
serve both. In fact what I learned is there is only one kind of care and that is
care for life, because there is only one being alive on this Earth, as
Teilhard de Chardin pointed out, and that Being is Life.
& Soul Studios
Through Communication and the Arts
|Events and Other Leadings
Spiritual Renewal Weekend, November 13-15
Past participants of this Ministry's extended programs are invited to gather at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, PA, for a Spiritual Renewal Weekend, November 13-15. The topic of Spiritual Restlessness
will be facilitated by Dan Snyder. Dan was author of the recent pamphlet from Pendle Hill Quaker Witness as Sacrament
. Registration materials are in the mail. If you are a past program participant and do not receive these materials in the next week or so, please contact the registrar Nancy Fennell
.A Lasting Gift: The Journals and Selected Writings of Sandra L. Cronk
Sandra Cronk, beloved teacher and co-founder of this Ministry, died in April 2000. This autumn Friends General Conference in cooperation with this Ministry will publish her journals. It is our hope that publication will coincide with the Spiritual Renewal Weekend in November.The Way of Ministry
Prayer and discernment continue for way opening to offer a second class of the one-year program The Way of Ministry
. We are tentatively working with a schedule that will allow a second class to begin in September 2010. We hope to be able share more news in the Autumn issue of Snapshots
. Meanwhile, we have revised the chart comparing our two extended programs, On Being a Spiritual Nurturer
and The Way of Ministry
. You can read this at our website
|A Ministry of Prayer and Learning devoted to the School of the Spirit
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