What is the Participating in God’s Power program?
Through 4 residencies and 3 webinars over a 12-month period, this program invites participants into a crucible of transformation. The program works with Quaker worship, structured exercises, and small group practices to allow opening more deeply and honestly to God’s presence, guidance, healing, and power. Now, knowing ourselves as deeply grounded in God, the Beloved, our small group work becomes an experiential playground to consider the impact our life experiences have on our ability to connect with ourselves, others, and the Divine.
Through this process-oriented program, students gain awareness, skills, and support to live from that interior place where humanity and divinity meet. This surrendered, vibrant discipleship becomes more and more heart-centered, authentic, and grounded in real life. We envision that Friends thus equipped will go out and be seeds of transformation in our Society and in the wider world. The intent of this program is nothing short of furthering the love/power of God in the world.
But what do we mean by power?
We understand the risk of using the word power, as it is usually defined in our culture as hierarchical, and which is felt as dominant, aggressive, and controlling. We acknowledge that humans have appropriated Divine power to justify the use of the kinds of power named above, resulting in all sorts of ungodly behavior that has been destructive in innumerable ways throughout history.
We offer a counter-cultural view of power as a heart space: one we enter into to connect with God, and with each other. It is a quality of the Divine, a tensile strength we are born with, and often lose touch with, this power that heals, makes whole, empowers, encourages, and liberates. It is felt experientially and manifests through connections with the Divine, ourselves, God and creation. It is the passionate Mystery found at the center of all beings, and living from this Divine Center, means living in whole-hearted relationship with this power.
How do we find this power?
Many of us have had a sense of this power, a moment of unity, or timelessness, or a felt understanding of our unique place in the vastness of the universe. Often, we can deepen our connection to this place through an intentional crucible.
This program seeks to be such a crucible, one which helps us to come into greater awareness of the unconscious drivers of our behaviors. Doing so allows us to see the ways we try to hide our human vulnerabilities from,ourselves, others, and even God, leading us to project our own unhealed aspects outwardly as “other.”
By knowing ourselves, all of ourselves, as both beloved and wounded, both magnificent and flawed, we develop the ability to live from a more grounded, embodied place, letting go of perfectionism and outcomes, and moving into relational truth and trusting the goodness of being in process. Coming into the “power of love”, the power of human relationships, the power of surrender to the Divine, the power of becoming aware of our impact, both positive and negative, takes us deeper into the root of who we are.
This inner work helps us to redefine “Who is my neighbor?” moving us away from the dehumanization of others, and into a movement of caring for the Oneness of humanity. Through a contained community of honesty and “staying in it”, we encounter and feel how we connect with ourselves, God, and others.
These experiences help open our eyes to seeing our wellbeing as intricately entwined with God, others and creation. That new awareness and gaze can move us into anywhere along a continuum that stretches from spiritually grounded action to a life devoted to prayer, all being a full embodiment of participating with God’s power.
The program may not always feel like a “safe place,” there are certainly going to be times when you feel pushed. Neuroscience teaches us that we learn best when we are in a place of moderate safety and we have the inner felt sensation of being stretched. We are going to do some things that are fun, and some that are hard, and some that are uncomfortable, and all of them will be life-giving. But we have found these “brave spaces” to be fertile ground for honing open heartedness and increasing the ability to connect with God and others.
Not a Quaker? While the program is grounded in Quaker faith and practice, its content applies to all people of faith. Many who are led to this program may have already known an inner quickening. We encourage any interested person to contact one of the core teachers for help with discernment.
The five goals the program is loosely structured around are:
- Develop a greater capacity for faithfulness, evidenced by movement toward deeper surrender (whether that means yielding or stepping up) and a more sensitive and greater ability to hear and follow God’s guidance.
- Embody a contemplative way of being that is more alive; body, mind, and spirit; fully grounded and on fire and which infuses our communities with the same (becoming a greater conduit of Holy Presence in our communities).
- Develop an experiential ongoing awareness and desire for shadow work: become more aware of our capacity to project unhealed, unrecognized, and unaccepted aspects of ourselves outwardly as “the other.” Be open to confronting, acknowledging and bringing to the Light for healing and integration those previously outward projected “thorns in the flesh”- places of spiritual wounding, trauma, or the impact from systemic evil stored in body, mind and spirit, which, left unconscious and/or split off, impede our life in Spirit.
- Feel an awareness of the relationship between those places where we carry old hurts, how these tender places might be transformed into gifts, and the relationship between individual wounding and systemic evil.
- Know spiritual self-care as a component of faithful living and set intentions and actions accordingly.
The six thematic streams that flow through each residency and each webinar are:
- Communion: Knowing ourselves as wounded and wonderful, incarnate beings who both carry the Seed of the Divine, are God’s beloved, and carry the vulnerability of humanness, in transformative connection with the Inner Teacher.
- Awareness: Noticing the human capacity to self-protect by closing our hearts to ourselves, to others, and to God, resisting the vulnerability of connection.
- Responsiveness: Developing the spiritual muscle to instead stay trusting and risk vulnerable connection.
- Consciousness: Exploring how healing and oneness is inseparable in the various dimensions of mind, body and spirit, and also the inseparability of individual and community, in both one’s wounding and one’s healing, learning to name what dimensions are currently active.
- Personal healing: Working to retrieve and integrating one’s shadow, being “with” the places of woundedness and rejection, being “with” the Light, as fundamentals to healing and repairing and increasing our capacity for the vulnerable, authentic relationship/connection with ourselves, others, and God, that we so desire.
- World and generational healing: Through activating the above spiritual practices, we become integrated in the movement of God, inciting all of us to greater love, greater consciousness. Entering that flow helps to add to a critical mass to move communal and collective consciousness closer to participating in God’s activity in humanity and the world.
The four structural elements we envision for the program are:
- Four residencies over 12 months, each of which includes times for spiritual practice, corporate worship, learning sessions, small groups and play.
- Three video conferences between the residencies, that will maintain community, introduce new material and integrate experiences.
- Contemplative reflection, with a focus on participating with the searching of the Inner Light, and integrating experiences and learned material.
- Commitment to spiritual direction, care committee, or some equivalent.
Want to learn still more?
The days of the residencies are full, grounded in worship and individual and communal spiritual practices, experimental learnings, two or three person group sharing of these learnings, body awareness practices, small groups, and perhaps a bit of fun as we enter before we settle.
We will gather on Thursday evenings for the first two residencies and on Friday afternoon for the second two, and a sample schedule for one of the full days might look something like this:
7:00 a.m. Solitary Spiritual Practice
9:15 Gather for large group experiential learning, using dyads and triads to debrief
12:00 p.m. Lunch
After lunch free time, or movement centered spiritual practices (hatha yoga, Qi Gong, and etc.)
3:15 Gather for small groups of 6-7 persons which continue throughout the program (times vary on different days)
7:15 Gather for large group experiential learning, using dyads and triads to debrief
9:15 Compline (focused on introducing spiritual practices)
Meeting for Worship will be interspersed throughout the day, and we expect the Spirit of Worship will permeate the residencies (even when we are having fun ). There will be at least one evening of silence per residency.
Small groups are an integral part of this program. Each day, we will gather to process what is rising in us, and how we are impacting each other, helping each other to bring into consciousness those parts of ourselves we have abandoned, and continually exploring the query “What does love look like?”
Residencies will end on Monday, after lunch.
Each participant will be given a dream journal. It is our experience that when we start inviting the unconscious to become conscious, dreams and visions become a more active part of our life. We ask that participants start writing their dreams and visions in the journal, also noting what was stirring in them daily. There will also be some reading, and spiritual practices of contemplative theological reflection will be used to integrate our experiential learning into mind, body, spirit.
There will be three webinars in between residencies.
We also anticipate offering optional video discussion groups exploring the recommended readings and optional resources we will share with the group.
If we chose to describe this new program in two words, they would be connection and impact. From the first worship in our first planning retreat, we experienced enormous Presence and Power in and for this work being birthed. That has continued and carried us through a long discernment and planning process. If you feel the same level of energy rising in you, or if you live with an ache or longing in your heart, you might be right for this experience. And if you yearn to be with those who are focused on moving further into a surrendered life of becoming living vessels of God’s love and power you also might be ripe for this experience. Christopher or Angi are available for questions and to help with discernment.
Address: 360 Blossom Hill Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601