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.