At our AM Residential Weekend in Cleobury Mortimer on 21-23 February we were privileged to have Gerald Hewitson as our speaker and looked at a number of spiritual practices.
Gerald Hewitson summed up his talk in terms of the following six points:
1. We cannot all be William Dent (Quaker Faith & Practice 18.11), but we can be our truest, deepest selves.
2. When we are our truest deepest selves, the world does change around us.
3. Francis Howgill ‘The Kingdom of Heaven did gather us and catch us all, as in a net’.
4. We can’t get to be in the place of being truly alive by ordinary business; whatever your practice, you need to turn aside to find that truest deepest point to become totally alive. The truest promptings of our heart are love and truth. Trust them.
5. Cease the quest for certainty, but open up for promptings.
6. What is my next (small) spiritual step? Be patient and listen.
Notes on the spiritual practices
Experiment with Light is a four stage guided meditation practice developed by Rex Ambler based on early Quaker texts and recapturing early Friends’ experiences. Practitioners are invited to allow ‘the light’ to illuminate ‘the truth’ of challenging situations; personal reflection and expression are enabled in a safe and supportive environment.
Advices and Queries No 1
Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your
hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our
darkness and brings us to new life.
Quoting from George Fox’s 1658 letter to Lady Elizabeth Claypole:
‘This is the word of the Lord God to you all; what the light exposes
and discovers, as temptations, distractions, confusions; do not look
at the temptations, confusions, corruptions; but at the light which
discovers them and exposes them; and with the same light you may feel
over them, to receive power to stand against them.
‘For looking down at sin, corruption, and distraction, you are
swallowed up in it; but looking at the light, which discovers them,
you will see over them. That will give victory, and you will find
grace and strength; there is the first step to peace’.
There is a great deal of resource and information, including various
versions of Experiment with Light meditations (both as texts and
down-loadable CDs) and the regular newsletter, available on the
For those wishing to learn about the practice, introductory weekends
take place at Swarthmoor and Woodbrooke; also one day workshops can be
facilitated by experienced EwL practitioners on ‘home ground’ for LMs or AMs.
All things are connected: A Spiritual Practice for our Times
A spiritual practice based on recognising our rightful place in the natural world. Its aim is to put us back in touch with the wisdom of ancient peoples, who understood that we are part of the web of life.
The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows. When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element. We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigour and vibrancy of this inheritance. In contrast to our frenetic, saturated lives, the earth offers a calming stillness. Movement and growth in nature takes its time. The patience of nature enjoys the ease of trust and hope. There is something in our clay nature that needs to continually experience this ancient, outer ease of the world. It helps us remember who we are and why we are here.
—John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace
Introduction to Journalling
We are enjoined to let our lives speak. They can speak to us, if we so desire. Journalling is a tool to penetrate the surface of experience, seeking deeper meanings and patterns.
Suggested reading: Tools of Transformation by Joanne Klassen. Joanne will be giving the ‘Life Writing for Transformation’ course at Woodbrooke on 30 March-3 April 2014.
Gerald and Shelagh Robinson are giving a course entitled ‘Let Your Life Speak: journalling our lives’ at Swarthmore June 13-15.
This used a seven-circuit processional labyrinth. Background information was on display and the workshop focused on experiencing the labyrinth. The labyrinth was ‘warmed’ through initial careful walking and exploration of its path – moving into deepening possibilities that are linked with the other workshops, or within the labyrinth metaphor itself.
‘Walking into Worship’ at Swarthmoor Hall
In the lovely surroundings of Swarthmoor – indoors and out – we will explore different approaches to walking, enjoying time to awaken our senses and deepen our awareness and appreciation of the beauty around us. We will create and walk a labyrinth; discover and share hidden riches through a team approach; ‘Derive’ (drifting and noticing); walk mindfully; and take a least one walk through the local countryside. Through quietness, awareness and thankfulness – we will travel together ‘walking in worship’.
August 22nd to 25th.
‘In the depth of common worship, it is as if we find our separate lives were all one.’ Thomas Kelly 1938.
A practice for preparing our hearts and minds so as to open ourselves to the Spirit and settle into the gathered Meeting for Worship.
Arrangements for the Home Groups
(notes by Kate Binney)
It was decided to have six home groups. One of the groups was made up of the parents of the younger children who could meet in a space next to where the young friends had their activities. The parents of the older YF joined in the other five groups; one set of parents alternated between groups 5 and 6. There was an average of seven Friends in each group.
The groups did not have a leader; the first named on the list collected the box for the group with instructions for the session plus spare paper, pens and cardboard to lean on. The groups ran themselves and to facilitate this each Friend was given a RECIPE which suggested how each person in the group could take responsibility. At the end of each session the boxes were returned to a central point to be replenished. The first session was Creative Listening and each group had a stone for Friends to hold while they spoke and then it was placed back in the centre for the next Friend. In my group this worked well and we did not need to use the stone again; we felt it was a good discipline for the first session. However it did not work as well in other groups.
Care was taken arranging the groups. Partners were split up, meetings were evenly divided and the ratio of men to women was the same. As far as I know the groups worked well and Friends were able to share in depth.