Our conversation with the Holy Presence is the most important one of our lives. What would it be like to have a prayer language that grew out of the way God *is* in our individual and corporate lives? Can we look to the actions of God to grow our vocabulary of images that illuminate and nurture the divine relationship?
The conversation between each of us and the Holy Presence is the most important one of our lives, and yet prayer is often “taught” as if from the “handy phrases” section of a traveler’s foreign language guide. Increasing our awareness of God’s presence in our individual lives and in the lives of our communities is both an effect and a goal of diving into authentic conversations about God talk. The words we use in both public and private prayer and the images we use when speaking about the Mystery/God reveal amazing details about our deeply held beliefs. And for some, public prayer may simply be out of the question because of language barriers and underlying confusion or unexamined, inherited beliefs. Some worship communities avoid speaking about God and prayer because of a fear of too much theological diversity. This workshop is for the nurture of individuals and of the meetings they worship with. In this workshop, we will examine the prayer language and God images we inherited in childhood, the ones we absorbed along the way, and the ones we choose. We will consider the differences between the lenses of understanding that are so close to us that we forget we’re wearing them and the lenses that we choose. Participants will experiment with exercises to become aware of beliefs that shape language and even the willingness to pray. We will speak plainly about what we hope and fear to be true about God, and how these hopes and fears enter into private and public prayer. We will engage with stories from our spiritual ancestors and stories from the Bible. Our workshop time will be roughly equally divided between worship/worship sharing, lecture, written and talking exercises, and discussion. Participants might enjoy reading Primary Speech by Ann and Barry Ulanov prior to our meeting. Also, it might be helpful to consider the following queries prior to our first meeting: What were your first experiences of prayer? How (and where, with whom, etc.) do you pray most often in your life now? What scares you about prayer? What was your earliest image of God? If that image has changed, what fueled the change?
About the leader :
Jennie is a member of Clear Creek Meeting in Richmond, IN and currently worships most often with Mt. Toby Friends in Leverett, MA. In addition to serving as Friend in Residence at Woolman Hill in Deerfield, MA, she works as a spiritual director, retreat leader, and bodyworker. Her call to ministry is a call to companion others at the edges-- the edge that overlaps body and spirit, the edge of the Christian movement, and the overlapping edge of intellect and intuition, where metaphors take over. In the past she has led Gathering workshops on Quakers and Money and Quakers and Leadership.