Workshop Number: 14
Leaders: Jan Michael
Who May Register?: Open to All
Experiential Activities: 26%
Who May Attend?
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)
This explores two meanings of “see” – how we conceptualize God, and what is our direct experience. The Beatitudes assert “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. Poetic speech or is there a Truth at the heart? Can we listen with the ear of the heart?
It was said of George Fox that “Truly he walked closer to God than other men.” In this workshop we will explore together who or what God may mean for us, which could be quite different from early Quakers or contemporary Christians and different for each individual. Other spiritual traditions may also illuminate our understanding. But more importantly than what we believe, what effect could “walking closer to God” mean for out daily lives?
For example, I expect most people, myself included, long for more and clearer guidance in everyday decisions. Quakers have maintained that each person has potential access to wisdom or leadings of the Spirit in our lives. The aim of many spiritual practices is to reduce the impediments to perceiving the presence of God or receiving divine wisdom. Some time will be spent learning about people’s experiences of Spirit in other traditions and using different spiritual practices that help us be more receptive.
Contemplative practices such as meditation can help us to learn to clarify our perceptions and reduce the interference of the ego. Seeking and practicing together we can learn to more easily find that True Self in our center, set aside at least briefly our ordinary cares, and be more prepared for the answers we hope to find. I believe that finding, practicing, and abiding in that silent center within each individual brings us closer to the Spirit and opens a path for receiving wisdom.
I find support from our spiritual forbears and contemporary Quakers as well as hints in the words of Jesus, who I think tried to teach his followers how to live in relation to God as he lived. Early Quakers believed that they had rediscovered primitive Christianity, but it’s also for us to make that discovery anew. Rewards of the search include the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The world needs our expression of these and more.
This workshop will include an introductory worship time, a brief lecture time, discussion, a meditation time of about 45 minutes and opportunity for questions and comments. Some meditations will be guided, including Rex Ambler’s practice, some will include background music accompaniment and some may engage participants with humming, or chanting.
I have led workshops for the quarterly and yearly meetings and religious education discussions for my monthly meeting. I have also led meditation workshops for another organization and workshops on the Quaker clearness committee process for both Quaker meetings and outside organizations. I serve on the board of a contemplative retreat center.