Friends General Conference

Together we nurture the spiritual vitality of Friends

FGC in Conversation with Donna Eisenhower

Photo Credit: D. Eisenhower

How eRetreats led to Spiritual Friendships

Donna Eisenhower participated in FGC’s first Spiritual Deepening eRetreat in 2016. Since then, she has taken four more, most recently in April 2020. “I’ve seen lots of changes in the eRetreat platform for the better,” she shares.

Perhaps her favorite was the Aging, Death, and Dying eRetreat. A former director of epidemiological surveys in New York City, Donna moved to Indiana when she retired. At the time of the eRetreat she was “dealing with aging and retirement after working very hard. I wanted to learn more about green burials, but also where I was spiritually with death and dying. It’s not a topic you can understand just sitting in your living room,” she muses. “The materials were excellent and broader than I expected. There was even humor that lightened the topic while still holding a powerful message.”

In addition to facilitated discussion, eRetreats offer curated readings, videos, podcasts, and exercises to help participants go more deeply into a topic. “There was writing and drawing. I'm not a person who draws, but I was surprised how it helped to bring things out.”

When Donna signed up for Spiritual Deepening eRetreats in early 2020, she expected to continue in her self-paced exploration into Quaker thought. What she didn’t anticipate was the community she would discover during the early days of the pandemic. 

“I connected with Friends I did not know before the eRetreat,” Donna remembers about the group that continued into three more eRetreats. “We came to know one another through the forums and became very comfortable speaking freely.”

Having personal connections can help when tackling challenging topics in an eRetreat like the spiritual dimensions of racism. “Those conversations can feel confronting,” Donna reflects. “You need to be able to make mistakes and remain open. It’s a process that you have to feel your way through.”

Donna looks forward to the new eRetreat coming this November on life transitions, Building a Meaningful Life. Find out more about upcoming Spiritual Deepening eRetreats on our website, and if you’re able, please make a gift to support Friends in finding nurturing spiritual community. Thanks to you and the many Friends like you who support FGC, Spiritual Deepening eRetreats are offered pay-as-lead. Your donation makes these experiences accessible to all!