The Contemplative Retreats Committee of School of the Spirit continues to discern how to provide opportunities for contemplative practice in the manner of Friends during this time of physical distancing. Two contemplative retreats were held via Zoom over the past year and a third will occur April 9–10.
The newest program, Participating in God’s Power, has completed the teaching portion of its first iteration with a weekend Zoom retreat in January. Teachers Angela York Crane and Christopher Sammond and participants express gratitude for a deep, profound experience.
After a year of prayerful discernment, School of the Spirit feels called to move forward with a new program, Faithful Meetings, which will provide Friends communities an opportunity for learning and growth in corporate and individual Quaker faith and spiritual practices.
School of the Spirit is in the process of building a more robust version of Spiritual Renewal Retreats and is considering a redesign of the Spiritual Nurturer program. The organization’s monthly enewsletter, SnapShots, provides updates on the latest developments; a subscription link is on the website.
The School of the Spirit offers weekend-length contemplative retreats that include guidance from experienced leaders and extended periods of time together in silence. In recent years, retreats have been held in New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and the program has been expanding to Michigan and Virginia.
A November 2019 retreat took place at the Weber Retreat and Conference Center in Adrian, Mich.; in January, Friends gathered for the annual Powell House retreat in New York; and a February retreat was held at Holy Cross Abbey outside Berryville, Va.
Because of COVID-19, 2020’s contemplative retreats have been postponed. School of the Spirit began offering one-day e-retreats via Zoom. Similar to in-person retreats, they include time for individual silent practices and periods of worship sharing. A Friend observed that “virtual” is not an accurate word since they have found they bring real connection—with Spirit and with other retreatants. A weekly midday Monday meeting for worship is also offered via Zoom.
The eleventh class of On Being a Spiritual Nurturer was able to gather for its final residency in November, “opening to the work of the inner teacher and to hearing God’s invitation to co-creation.” The course Participating in God’s Power, led by Christopher Sammond and Angela York Crane, has continued through Zoom, and will continue to identify and work with blocks to full obedience to God’s call.