Presence and Practices of
JERRY MAY, ROSE MARY DOUGHERTY
and TILDEN EDWARDS-Infused
Writing for Change
in Challenging Times
An Online Day-Retreat
Spirituality & Practice
July 25, 2020
Although Shalem’s founders could not have envisioned 104 seekers gathered in one virtual Zoom room, they would have recognized the underlying spirit of unity, love and group spiritual direction that anchored the event. Some folks signed in early: I asked them to post hopes and expectations in the Chat section. I followed Jerry’s example by inviting participants to dedicate their retreat to someone they hold dear. I lit a candle and dedicated the day to IRA PROGOFF, whose journal workshops provided the chalice where my contemplative – activist soul came to awareness. Progoff was my first spiritual director, though neither of us called it that in the early 1970s.
I sensed Tilden’s spirit when I designed our Sabbath-rhythm sessions to include short teaching stories, queries and shared stillness. Rose Mary’s wisdom shaped guidelines for triads to listen contemplatively, not conversationally. S&P’s MARY ANN BRUSSAT suggested the pattern of two hours for guided writing and reflection, two hours of unstructured time to ease Zoom fatigue, followed by two more hours of writing and reflection. KEZIAH GRINDELAND posted photos to support participants’ interactions with nature during the break. Twice during the day, S&P used the Zoom feature to divide people into breakout groups. I asked the person with the longest hair to speak first, a quick visual way for polite strangers to establish speaking order when sharing delights, difficulties and discoveries, or reading short excerpts from their journals. 18 folks chose to keep silence during the triads, and I held all participants in tender care.
I also prayed for 99 women and 5 men while they responded to writing prompts on themes including Cracked & Broken, Faith & Doubt, Not Listening, Injustices, Reaching, and Endings. On-screen Zoom images permitted me to peek into participants’ faces and homes while they journaled. I adapted Tilden’s icon-gazing practice to rest my eyes on folks hunched over desks, stretched on couches or gazing skyward. Tenderness washed over me. The sweetest surprise was how natural it felt to prayerfully embrace people in separate physical spaces. The Beloved infused each and every one of us.
I owe great gratitude to MARY ANN and FREDERIC BRUSSAT, who co-founded Spirituality & Practice, following decades of work providing resources for spiritual journeys through their newsletters. Their prophetic work has offered spiritual literacy and interfaith wisdom to seekers around the globe through online interaction. Following their path, Spiritual Directors International and Stillpoint have instituted similar programs. I can hear Jerry May’s hearty laughter rocking the room as spiritual leaders collaborate across traditions, enriched by expansive new technologies. I celebrate the inclusive, low-cost spiritual outreach that is emerging from Covid-19 restrictions.
Online retreats offer unexpected depth
and intimacy for soul companioning,
especially among contemplative writers.
To join the circle of
AS IT IS: Spiritual Journaling 2020
click on this link:
JUDITH FAVOR completed Shalem’s Spiritual Guidance program in 1986.
She is retired from UCC ministry (San Francisco),
teaching at the Claremont School of Theology,
and guiding Stillpoint Ghost Ranch programs.
Judith remains active in soul companioning, retreat guidance,
Quaker service and her personal ministry of writing for publication.
A recently widowed great-grandmother,
she resides at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA.
In September 2020,
Readers Magnet will release her
Sabbath Economics: A Spiritual Guide Linking Love and Money.
Learn more at www.JudithFavor.com and Facebook.
Befriending Spiritual Fitness with Rev. Judith Favor
“The spiritually fit person knits back together the separateness of work and play, reunites being and doing, has a spirit place in nature, never eats without thanking somebody and refuses to let all time be the same.”
— Donna Schaper, Sabbath Sense
Saturday, March 4, 2017
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
1221 Wass Street, Tustin, CA 92780
($58 if you would like a lunch provided)
Register now at stillpointca.org/calendar-event/writing-2017
Stillpoint invites you to gather on the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday to practice spiritual fitness with self, others, God and creation. Gently guided writing exercises open fresh perspectives on past, present and future, helping restore spiritual energies for the work of social change. Spiritually responsive journaling has helped generations of seekers cope with inevitable disruptions; it has guided countless people in learning from failures and challenges.
It is so easy to lose track of what we value. Contemplative writing helps us sit still long enough to see what has been ignored or misplaced; it grounds us as we forge links between interior and social realities; it restores our spiritual direction. Pen in hand, we gather in Sacred Presence with like-hearted souls to listen together for the still, small voice, to behold what we hear and to see new truths flow naturally onto the page. Prayerful writing in the company of others is a powerful way of tending the soul and mending the universe.
Stillpoint • PO Box 94535, Pasadena, California 91109 • StillpointHQ@gmail.com • stillpointca.org
The Art of Spiritual Direction
Monday, November 13-Monday, November 20
Price: $2,395.00 – $2,895.00
This experience nurtures openness to the many ways God enlivens both participants and their companions on life’s spiritual journey. Rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition, we draw on and study the wisdom from many traditions. An experienced staff of distinguished spiritual directors facilitates sessions using role-plays, presentations, discussions, spiritual practices, demonstrations, contemplative exercises and prayer.
Participants who apply and are accepted in the program will travel to Ghost Ranch for four, one-week (7 nights) residential intensives. In between the residential intensive weeks, field work and assignments will occur.
Spiritual direction is an ancient ministry,
a unique one-to-one relationship in which
a trained person assists another person
in the search for an ever-closer union
of love with God.
“Spiritual direction explores a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human.
Simply put, spiritual direction is helping people tell their sacred stories every day.
Spiritual direction has emerged in many contexts using language specific to particular cultural and spiritual traditions. Describing spiritual direction requires putting words to a process of fostering a transcendent experience that lies beyond all names and yet the experience longs to be articulated and made concrete in everyday living. It is easier to describe what spiritual direction does than what spiritual direction is. Our role is not to define spiritual direction, but to describe the experience.
Spiritual direction helps us learn how to live in peace, with compassion, promoting justice, as humble servants of that which lies beyond all names.”
Liz Budd Ellmann, MDiv
Executive Director, Spiritual Directors International
Stillpoint offers a two-year training program in The Art of Spiritual Direction (click here for details), and also provides references and resources for persons who are seeking spiritual direction. Directors listen carefully to the unfolding of directees’ lives, to help them discern the ways in which God is leading them. Spiritual Directors meet regularly (usually once a month) with persons who are seeking to share and explore their journeys of faith. The term “spiritual direction” has a long, rich history, and the term is still used today even though the practice of spiritual direction consists much more of “holy listening,” rather than direction in the sense of offering guidance or direct advice.
A Spiritual Director is a privileged witness in the spiritual unfolding of another person. The focus is on the relationship between the “directee” and God, much more than on the relationship between the director and directee.
I’m pleased to say you can still enroll in AS IT IS: Spiritual Journaling!
Participants from Syria, Barbados, England and the US are dealing with difficult others, blessing absent ones and befriending money in their journals today.
E.courses offered by Spirituality&Practice reach across the years and around the world to help people explore spiritual life with clarity and authenticity. Course material remains in the archive, ready when you are.
If you sign up before September 2, you’ll have access to the Practice Circle. After that you can sign up with S&P’s on-demand system, choose your own start date and select when you want to receive the twelve journal-prompt emails.
Please join us today – or later!
Monday, August 8th – Friday, September 2nd, 2106
“As it is.”
These three little words embedded in the lines of a prayer taught by Jesus remind us to seek the workings of the divine “on earth as it is in heaven” — that is, to approach our many challenges in union with Sacred Presence. But how? One profound and reassuringly helpful tool to foster this sense of unity is spiritual journaling. Through contemplative writing, we get practice in recognizing and responding to our relationship with God, self, others, nature, work, and society just “as it is.”
Spiritual Journaling opens space to relate to deep questions:
- What does this event or this emotion have to say to me?
- What can this disappointment teach me about healing?
- What does this discovery reveal to me about the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit?
- How can my anguish over the suffering of this person or that group stir my love into action?
- How can my felt sense of yearning guide me in taking the next best step in this situation?
Whatever spiritual path you are on, this e-course will equip you to explore interior, interpersonal, social, and sacred realities. Holy questions gleaned from scripture, poetry, and literature will offer a variety of perspectives on faith and doubt, action and reflection. In each email sent on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for four weeks, you will receive:
- An introductory reflection on the day’s topic
- A tip for getting started with your writing
- A special query to spark your thoughts and journal writing
- A suggested action and resources for going deeper if you wish
- A link to the “Practice Circle” (a community forum open 24/7 to share with others in this e-course and to receive guidance from Judith)
Judith began journaling when she was ten, in a small blue diary with a gold lock and miniature key. She chose a ballpoint pen, because she knew that writing in pencil would let her fudge the truth. In 1974, she began a lifelong love affair with keeping a journal, studying journaling as an art form and not only writing but also inserting soul collages, tree photos, and icons in her journals.
In 1981 she enrolled at Pacific School of Religion and then went on to be pastor of United Church of Christ congregations in San Francisco until the ministries of spiritual formation and writing laid claim to her soul. She now lives with her husband Pete at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California. Her heart is enriched by her work in spiritual accompaniment, teaching, and contemplative writing.
Judith invites you to freely express your full range of written reactions in this e-course — confused or certain thoughts, positive or negative emotions — because each aspect of the truth of yourself will reveal valuable insights. You may want to follow her journaling prompts exactly; you may also view them as a trampoline and record the bouncing associations that follow. This e-course gives you lots of freedom, most of all the freedom to follow your heart and the arc of your own life’s story.
Monday, August 8 – Friday, September 2
[The above text content courtesy of www.spiritualityandpractice.com]
Is silence collaborative, complicit?
“You know your part in this,” Sheriff Bowen once told him, and he did. Leo had not spoken up. He should have told someone about his brother torturing dogs. Leo knew he had been a coward.
- from Silent Voices, Part One: Boy
Is silence the space between words, a pause between heartbeats?
That evening, Cordelia heard Leo’s baritone sounding the overture to an opus, one she would be hearing for nearly thirty years. It took longer for her to discover the complexities of this opus, to make out its woodwind harmonies, its percussive dissonances and its long, silent rests.
- from Silent Voices, Part Three: Coming Together
Does silence signify absence? Does it entail presence?
Leo didn’t quite know how to be normal under the shadow of goodbye, although he had lived through it once. In Granny Phoebe’s case, he had her love to live up to. In Margaret’s case, his mother-in-law’s temper outweighed most everything else.
- from Silent Voices, Part Three: Coming Together
Does silence make you nervous? Can it be menacing?
The silence that followed Leo’s departure was like a held breath. Chastened by her husband’s outburst, Cordelia wilted into a state of rebuke. Little did she know it would become a permanent condition.
- from Silent Voices, Part Four: Wife
Is silence voluntary, even communal?
What are Leo’s mother and I doing here, sitting quietly like this, Cordelia wondered. Praying, she supposed, though neither said anything remotely prayerful. She didn’t want to break the peace by asking.
– from Silent Voices, Part Four: Wife
Is silence a refusal to speak, or to respond?
Nothing had ever been said about her husband’s mother leaving the convent. Cordelia felt the pressure to ask, but was relieved by the silence. She was not at all ready to hear about private matters between a failed nun and her God.
- from Silent Voices, Part Four: Wife
How may silence and gender be related?
On this winter day she felt it again, the race of her pulse that propelled her to keep after him. “You may have uncovered a terrible crime. What will you do, Leo? You must do something about this.”
He hung his head and went mute, not for the first time. She was desperate for him to speak, to say anything, but he was too busy breathing. No matter how hard she pressed, no matter how urgently she pleaded, Leo kept his mouth shut, saying nothing for such a long time that she eventually stopped waiting for an answer.
- from Silent Voices: Part Seven: Widow
Can silence be pleasurable, even palpable?
Nobody knows about our sexual chemistry during my first two pregnancies. Our secret. She used to wonder what the men at the bank thought when Leo came to work with his face aglow, but never dared ask.
- from Silent Voices: Part Seven: Widow