Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spiritual Development and Direction

Penelope participated in "School of the Spirit" a couple of years ago. When she told me about it, and as I have learned more, I feel this is something I would very much like to do, but not at this point in my "householder years". I couldn't afford the time, nor the money. I feel drawn to a commitment in community to deepen and develop my spirituality. Maybe in a few years when the boys are more independent.

A few months ago, she also told me about Spiritual Formation Groups (a name I don't like, by the way. I would call them Spiritual Development Groups). A few Friends Meetings (and other denominations, as well) have hosted SFGs. SFGs are year-long, twice-monthly commitments to meet to develop and encourage individual and group spiritual discipline practices. Generally, the group does a weekend retreat together at the beginning and then commits to getting together once a month as a whole to discuss a book or other reading about spiritual life. The large group also divides into smaller groups of 3-6 people to also meet monthly to check in with one another about spiritual disciplines each has chosen to follow. The individuals and group commit to encouraging spiritual development and maturation. The SFG lasts about 9 months and then gets together for a closing retreat.
I'm very drawn to the idea of participating in a Spiritual Development Group. I've been thinking about this for a few weeks and was getting ready to call the clerk of Ministry and Council to talk with her about organizing a group for next fall when I discovered that at the FGC Yearly Gathering there will be a workshop on just that very thing. Sigh...

I'd been wanting to go to Yearly Gathering. Marcus Borg is going to be a speaker on Thursday and I know I would enjoy hearing him. I'm ready to learn more about the wider Quaker world and get to know others in it. I want to get out of my Nashville Friends Meeting comfort zone and move into new, larger space. But, I'm working. And we're broke. Broker than broke. Gathering is really expensive. Even if I got a scholarship, I'd still have to pay to travel. And there's the kids. Declan will be in summer school but the younger two won't be. And I'm working and can't really afford to take off for more than a week, time- or money-wise.

This is one of those times in which I believe that if I am supposed to go, way will open. I'm not even going to pursue it. I trust that God will point me in the direction I'm supposed to head. I may go to Meeting on Sunday and talk with Carolyn about organizing a Spiritual Development Group. I'm willing to do most of the work if a more seasoned Friend will work with me, particularly in choosing the reading materials and facilitating the meetings.

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