Discussion groups that nurture us We decided to restart our discussion groups to help nurture us spiritually, both individually, and as a community, during our time at Thakeham village hall. We organised a mix of evening and morning sessions, shared lunches and discussions on some Sundays after Meeting. One Sunday we had a shared lunch and then a walk and talk along the River Arun. Here are some of the discussions we’ve had recently.
Exploring the meaning of “Soul” At an evening discussion in Coldwaltham we explored "what it may mean to be a Soul in a human body". We used the following handout to prompt the discussion:
A Handout we used Here are some ways of thinking about soul. You might be interested to see which ones capture your imagination. You may have your own way of thinking about soul.
“I believe that to nurture my soul and to fulfil my soul’s purpose, I must learn from every event in my life. I must come to realise that every experience has within it a seed of a tremendous gift - a soulful gift.” John Gray
“My work is a daily reminder that we are not our bodies or our brains, but our souls. That’s the part of us that is eternal. Our souls keep returning, as though we were in a large school, until we are able to understand and to graduate.” Brian Weiss
“To nourish the soul means to participate in the very mechanics of creation - to become a co-creator of your life and of the world as you want it to be.” Wayne Dyer
“Soul is our appetite, driving us to eat from the banquet of life. People filled with the hunger of soul take food from every dish before them, whether it be sweet or bitter.” Matthew Fox
“In a world moving at hyperspeed, where so many of us are anxious because of the rate of change, the soulful move is the move toward contemplating the source of things deeply rooted in eternity, the things that always are.” Phil Cousineau
“The new work of art does not consist of making a living or producing an objet d’art or in self therapy, but in finding a new soul. The new era is the era of spiritual creativity ... and soul-making.” Henry Miller
“You know of the disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness .... There also exists a sleeping sickness of the soul. Its most dangerous aspect is that one is unaware of its coming. That is why you have to be careful. As soon as you notice the slightest sign of indifference, the moment you become aware of the loss of a certain seriousness, of longing, of enthusiasm and zest, take it as a warning. You should realise your soul suffers if you live superficially.” Albert Schweitzer
“When your life is filled with the desire to see the holiness in everyday life, something magical happens: ordinary life becomes extraordinary, and the very process of life begins to nourish your soul.” Rabbi Harold Kushner
The discussion raised many interesting thoughts about “soul” “spirit” “the holy spirit” and it helped people to explore what made sense to them, and also to understand what made sense to others.
Walking along the river On a lovely summer afternoon we went to a Friend’s house at Houghton Bridge for a shared lunch, and then took the opportunity walk along the river while discussing "where I am on my spiritual journey now, and what that means for me at the moment." This was a great chance to reflect on our spiritual journeys and to share our thoughts with others as we walked, or simply enjoyed a cup of tea together!
Christianity and Buddhism At a Friend’s house in Storrington we watched a very interesting DVD about Christianity and Buddhism. This prompted much discussion about the similarities and differences, and also made us think about what it means to be a Quaker.
Health, Healing & Spirituality We experimented in the winter with a discussion group on a morning during the week. The topic was “Health, Healing & spirituality. At the time Helen sent this link as she receives lots of scientific articles where the links between body, mind and spirit are shown to be much deeper than anyone realised.
During the discussion we considered: What does "health" mean to you? What does "healing" mean to you? What is the link for you between health and spirituality? What is the link for you between healing and spirituality? This lead to a very moving discussion as people spoke about their personal experiences of healing at different times in their lives.
Starting the New Year we focused on “What we have been grateful for during 2013, and how this could help us during 2014." This was a really useful time of reflection to remind us of things we were pleased with during 2013. It was an uplifting discussion as people recalled how grateful they are, and how this feeling could be taken forward into 2014.
Blue Idol Model of Care Ongoing concerns in Nominations Committee about finding enough people to fill the required roles within the meeting led to two creative and inspiring meetings to discern a way forward. We proposed a new method of working which aims to lead to an evolving meeting which meets our needs, by working from values rather than rules as rules can be restrictive.
We together developed a model where by we have a limited number of set roles. All other needs within the meeting could be met through a shared responsibility of the whole meeting. We have used the model at discussion group to review the state of our meeting and to begin to think about what we need to do to keep a healthy, ever developing meeting. Progress of specific projects can then be tracked at our Business Meetings
What next for the Blue Idol? We had a shared lunch and discussion to explore what we wanted on our return to the Blue Idol when the building works have finished. We wanted to think how we could make the most of such a beautiful place. It became clear that there were lots of thoughts and feelings about our current journey during the Blue Idol restoration. We've managed the time in a way that seems to have strengthened Meeting and yet, initially, it was all a shock. There was anxiety about raising the funding and how we would fare as a Meeting. We realised that there was much for us to reflect upon about our journey so far, both personally and as a group, as well as around what the next months will bring (as it became apparent that we would not be returning as early as we had hoped.)
A collage of our journey during the restoration of the Blue Idol We used the time after our shared lunch in May to reflect, to capture our thoughts and feelings, and to see what stories would emerge. We used a visualisation to remember being at the blue Idol, discovering how much money was needed to restore the roof, and planning to move to Thakeham Village Hall. We recalled our concerns and expectations as we settled into meeting in the village hall, and we thought about what had helped us to manage this unsettling time of change. We also began to visualise returning to the Blue Idol and how it will be the same and yet different. Finally we thought about how the Meeting has changed and how we have changed.
We took time to each do a collage from magazine words and pictures, or write a poem or some prose, or to draw and paint. Then as a group we made a huge collage of all our creations. Each person spoke about their contribution to the Meeting’s collage. It was a very thoughtful and happy afternoon.
“My view & experience of God, and the effect this has had on my life." At a recent shared lunch and discussion following Sunday Meeting we shared, in small groups, our thoughts about our beliefs about God/Universal Energy/the Source now, what our beliefs have been along the way, and how these have affected our journeys so far. It was a really good opportunity to learn more about one another and to draw closer as a community.
What have we gained? The Blue Idol discussion groups are varied in terms of the topics, and having combined these with shared lunches and meeting in each other’s homes we have more of a sense of belonging. We feel part of a loving and accepting community. They are a very important part of what happens in the Blue Idol Community.