Welcome and Check-in (15 minutes)
- Thank everyone for joining you in celebrating your time together.
- Share the goals of today’s session (see Aims & Objectives)
- Begin with brief check-ins. You may consider using one or more of the greetings suggested by Friends in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting: “How does the Truth fare with thee?”
Worship Sharing (30-45 minutes)
The Spiritual Deepening Program is designed to provide us with an opportunity to explore and deepen our faith journeys, to rediscover the power that early Friends experienced in a way that is relevant for our lives today, to build spiritual community through sharing and listening, and to explore tools to help us move closer to living a life transformed by the Inward Teacher, the indwelling Christ, the Seed—that Power Beyond Words.
Let’s settle into worship sharing and reflect on this experience of deepening that we’ve shared together:
What does “deepening” mean to you? In what ways have you experienced it during our time together?
If necessary, review these guidelines for worship sharing.
Sharing Spiritual Deepening with Others (60-90 minutes)
This exercise invites participants to share the fruit of their time together with the larger community (whether this be the meeting or yearly meeting or local community).
TO FRIENDS IN AMERSHAM
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall; and waiting till the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting. Oh! wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that ye may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly one with another. And then, ye will be a praise to the Lord; and any thing that is, or hath been, or may be, amiss, ye will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb's dominion; and that which is contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. So watch your hearts and ways; and watch one over another, in that which is gentle and tender, and knows it can neither preserve itself, nor help another out of the snare; but the Lord must be waited upon, to do this in and for us all. So mind Truth, the service, enjoyment, and possession of it in your hearts; and so to walk, as ye may bring no disgrace upon it, but may be a good savor in the places where ye live, the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom ye converse.
Your Friend in the Truth, and a desirer of your welfare and prosperity therein.
Aylesbury, 4th of Third Month, 1667
Isaac Penington to Friends in Amersham, First Published in 1667. Quaker Heritage Press. 2002. P. 486. Used with Permission.
Paulette Meier sings excerpts from this quotation on her CD Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong. You can play the audio clip on a smartphone or CD player.
Begin by sharing Isaac Penington’s epistle to Friends in Amersham (above), through reading the text, in full or an excerpt, or by listening to the plainsong track. Explain that epistle writing is a tradition stemming from early Friends, who wrote letters to each other offering advice, insight, support, and instruction.
Through his words, Penington offers Friends a vision of spiritual community and spiritual practice that still resonates today. In response to his epistle and to our time together in this small group, invite people to create something that can be sent out into the world to share with others.
What message do you have to share with other Quakers or with the world?
This can be considered an opportunity to share about the Spiritual Deepening experience and to offer encouragement or guidance to other spiritual seekers. The group can decide together what to create and break into smaller groups to work on pieces, if needed. Some options include:
- Write an epistle
- Create art
- Write a poem or a song
- Write article for newsletter or report for Business Meeting
- Plan to lead an exercise with the larger group – What would be on the agenda?
- Record a brief video to share (most smart phones can record video)
- Craft a query to share during worship sharing or meeting for worship
- Choreograph a dance
Tell participants that they will have 30 minutes to work on this project. After 30 minutes, check in with everyone and see if more time is needed.
Come together as a group to share with each other. Make a plan for sharing your creations with the meeting, the yearly meeting, or the community.
(Alternatively, if your group has limited time, you may shorten this activity by asking participants to rewrite the "Our Life is Love" quotation into their own words, followed by sharing.)
Break: Coffee, Snacks, and Fellowship (15 minutes)
Moving Forward and Going Deeper (30 minutes)
Invite participants to think about how they would like to carry the Spiritual Deepening experience forward in their lives. Settle into silence and spend 10-15 minutes reflecting in their journals on the following prompts:
- How have I been transformed?
- How do I hope to continue growing? What is my growing edge?
- What practices or perspectives do I hope to continue incorporating into my daily life?
- What support, accountability, encouragement, prayers, or connections can I ask for from the group or individuals?
Participants who finish early or choose not to write can hold the group in centering silence.
After everyone has had time to reflect, gather into pairs or triads and share your thoughts. After 10-15 minutes, return to the large group to report in, sharing requests for Light/support and the hopes everyone has for going forward.
Closing (10 minutes)
Close your time together by offering gratitude for the contributions of each individual to the group and offer to hold each other in the Light. Reiterate the importance of confidentiality.