Friends do not consider any scriptures, including the Bible, to be the final Word of God. Robert Barclay cautioned that the scriptures are inly a declaration of the source and not the source itself. Friends believe in “continuing revelation” arising from ongoing communion with the Living God. This expands our sensitivity in relationships with on another and likewise our knowledge of the universe.
[God made mortals] so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him--though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against such things.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
How to Use Grounding Quotes
Below are some suggestions for exploring the introductory essays, texts, and videos in the Grounding section of each topic. Be creative and consider using different processing techniques over time in order to spark the various learning styles of your participants: discussion, personal reflection, artistic expression, music, worship sharing, creative writing, and deep listening.
Friendly Bible Study
The Friendly Bible Study process applies to Scripture as well as other materials. This process is good for a group of newcomers and old timers, allowing participants to speak about what is exciting and what is problematic about the text.
Find the Truth
Choose one idea or sentence that rings true for you. Share with a partner an experience you have had that relates to that sentence/idea.
What Do You Notice?
Shorter variations might be: What one phrase or idea sticks out for you? Sit with it for a few minutes and see what rises for you. Now journal/share with a partner.
Draw or doodle in response to this text. Allow yourself to be Spirit led – what color do you want to pick up, and how do you want to use it? This is not art for to view. This is exploration and expression. Alternatively, invite participants to make a visual or 3D response to the text using art materials such as clay or play dough, magazines for collage, paint, mural paper, pipe cleaners, objects from nature (acorns, feathers, grasses, flowers, seeds, bark), or building blocks or Legos.
Visit the Text in Worship
Sit in worship with this material. Let it work on you. Try not to “think” about it – just let it sit on your lap and soak in. Now, turn to your partner and share something about your visit with this text.
Write your reaction to the text, how it applies to your life today, what you’re grappling with, or what you’re grateful for. Use one of the General Questions for Reflection or free-write. In general, journal writing is kept confidential.
Set it to Music
If you have a group that is willing to be creative, break into small groups and ask each group to write a tune for the quotation or an excerpt (or assign a different quotation to each group). Tunes are a great way to “memorize” quotations so that they will stick with you. Check out Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong for some beautiful examples.
Share a quotation, introductory essay, QuakerSpeak video link, or set of quotations with group participants. In preparation for the next Spiritual Deepening group session, give the participants some “homework” to do. This could include:
- reflecting on the text during their daily spiritual practice or during Meeting for Worship
- journaling about their response to the text
- rewriting the message in their own words
- writing a prayer about the topic
- finding a song, object, or image that represents to them the theme of the message
- creating a piece of art that illustrates their response
As part of your next group sessions, invite participants to share or report back on their homework assignment.
Ask a question that will elicit one-word answers or short phrases. On a flipchart paper, record the responses as participants share. Consider questions such as: What word stands out to me in this text? What feelings arise in my body as I consider this message? What question do I want to ask Spirit about this message? Invite participants to comment on what they notice about the brainstorm list.
Pair-Share or Triads
Divide the group into pairs or sets of three to discuss the quotation. Return to a large group and share any themes that arose.
Invite participants to briefly contemplate the quotation and then respond to a writing prompt. Create a prompt specifically related to the text or choose one of the General Questions for Reflection.
Make it Personal
Rewrite the quote in your own words or to reflect contemporary society and language.
General Questions for Reflection:
- How is the Divine/Truth/Love speaking to me through this text?
- What experience in my life reflects the message of this text?
- What do I have to learn from this message?
- What resonates with me in this quotation?
- What stands out to me in this text?
- What surprised me about this message?
- What questions arise about my life as I contemplate this message?
- What canst thou say? (What do I have to say in response to this message?)
- What feelings arise in my body as I consider this message?
- An image that comes to mind as I listen to this quotation is…
- Where is the growing edge for me around this issue?
- If I could rephrase this message in my own words, I would say…
- This Truth tastes like… (smells like… sounds like… feels like… looks like….)
- In relation to this topic, I used to be.…., but now I’m ……
- I’d like to ask Spirit / the Universe / God / the Inward Teacher ……. about this message.
- The point on my spiritual journey when this idea has been most alive in me was…