As a core teacher for the School of the Spirit Ministry’s On Being a Spiritual Nurturer program from 2001–2015, I had ample opportunity to reflect upon the relationship between my practice of spiritual nurture in my local monthly meeting and my teaching of that art. As a teacher, I began any preparation with the questions: How and what am I being taught by my meeting about nurturing? What is God trying to show me about the community, about me, and about God? These questions are the foundation for being in the school of Spirit (traditionally a term for meetings of ministers and elders). That foundation is knowing God is present and active everywhere and seeking to draw us closer all the time.
I hope that the use of the word “God” is not off-putting. Without a word which points to the great mystery that lies at the heart of the paradox of our human consciousness, I find myself prone to lapsing into the dualism of self and other, and placing the self at the center of our world. Our yearnings point us to the ground of our being, and, for me, “God” is as good a word as any, despite its anthropomorphized use today. Believing in God is to believe in the universe and our small part in it, expressed in our deepest longing for harmony and resolution.
The following seven practices or habits arose when a recent participant in the program asked me to distill the art of spiritual nurture. They are to be lived into over a lifetime; don’t expect that you can turn them on like a light bulb. They are teachers.
I recommend these habits to you and especially to Ministry and Council committees everywhere.