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“The Same Spirit”— Bridging Theological Divides

Ben and Chris

Ben Zellmer and Christine Hall

By Christine Hall

RECENT TRAVELS BROUGHT ME FACE TO FACE with people who think and talk about God very differently than me or my little Quaker meeting on Whidbey Island, in Washington State. There were different expressions, songs, and theological emphases, yet I experienced the same Spirit flowing. The Holy One was weaving Goodness in Wisconsin for my nephew’s confirmation in the Lutheran Church.

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Self, Spirit, and the Inner Journey of Advent

MANY OF US WERE TAUGHT TO MISTRUST OUR OWN SOULS or at best to minimize our inner lives in faith. Go to church, know the Bible, and be kind to others…  Instead, I’m reflecting on Advent as a profound inner journey of hope and joyful promise. Will you join me?

We know the commercial and social frenzy of December is at odds with nature’s inward turning, hibernation, and fallow fields, at least in the northern hemisphere. The visible flurry of Christmas in North America also obscures the ancient call to spiritual contemplation in the Christian season of Advent. 

I really appreciate the heart of Advent. The wider Christian calendar overlaps with some of the sensibilities of everyday Quaker spirituality, my lived faith. With Quakers, I honor quiet waiting for the Divine. My spirit echoes the inner longing of the Christmas hymns in minor keys. Something in me reawakens with familiar Advent scripture readings. The ol’ texts dignify dreams and mysterious angelic visitations, the call to awareness or “staying awake,” and an authentic “yes” to God’s desires. Continue reading

BYO”E” — Bring Your Own Experience

What makes Way of the Spirit so profound for participants? In part, it’s the approach I’ve tried to describe below. Is this for someone you know? 2019 retreat cycle begins February 15-18. Details: https://goodnewsassoc.org/spirit/

THE WAY OF THE SPIRIT APPROACH to retreats and spiritual growth is “experiential”. The specifics of one’s experience, character, activities, and sensibilities matter in the life of faith. Program participants bring who they are, as authentically as they are able, into each retreat, into reflection, and into dialogue with program content and each other. They also experience new spiritual practices, people, and ways of talking about their lives with God. This post offers questions or queries to help engage you (Yes, you!) experientially in reflection, right now. There are no right or wrong answers, only opportunities to notice and articulate what is real for you.

  • How do you experience the Holy?

Responses to the query above are unique to each of us. Hard to talk about though. The question is not about what you believe or think about God. “How do you experience the Holy?” points toward the whens, wheres, and hows. If you’ve never reflected this way about faith, try it. You could recall places or times that touch something of the sacred for you. You could appreciate your bodily responses to situations, your “cues” that something of the Divine may be moving in you, between you and others, or beyond you. Way of the Spirit builds attentiveness to subtle intuitions and sensibilities. It strengthens invisible spiritual muscles for all situations and tasks. 

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A Good Question for “God-Language”

By Christine Hall

A FRIEND BICYCLED 2,700 MILES THIS SUMMER along the Continental Divide. In a newspaper feature piece, she described a key question that carried her through the challenges:

“When doing endurance races, I have a question I ask myself when I want to quit: Am I in danger or just uncomfortable? If I’m just uncomfortable, I tell myself to keep going. Things will get better. And they usually do.” 1

“Am I in danger, or just uncomfortable?” is a really useful question for anyone committed to a long-term effort to stretch physically. The beauty of the question is that it applies spiritually too, because growth in a God-centered life asks us to build faithful, trusting soul-muscle strength for the long haul. Continue reading

A Dog Playing Frisbee, Synchronicity, and Grace

WHAT TO MAKE OF AN ODD OVERLAPPING of circumstance? When these things happen (and they DO) I often wonder who I’ll tell. Who would believe me, or “get” the meaning I make of it all? A summer story is just too fun to keep quiet about.

Imagine me praying on a beach. Bright hot day. A friend and I are huddled against a drift log, in the shade of a giant green and white umbrella. Families, kids, and dog walkers are dotted across acres of open sand at low tide. The praying was meant to close our accompaniment time. She’d asked. I gulped inwardly, still not confident with saying out loud what’s going on with me and God. I aim to be authentic, and my verbal prayers are very free form. So, this time I’m winging it with whatever comes to mind from our time together. Continue reading

Way of the Spirit: Fuel for Faith in Action

By Christine Hall, Director of Way of the Spirit

Feet on RockSpiritual retreats are powerful opportunities to cultivate our best intentions for a life of faith, and help to grow the kind of courage needed to act as led by the Spirit.

Strengthen our best intentions
Retreats are all about intention—where you are aiming, or your sense of purpose. To be clear, intentions are not the same as New Years resolutions. Most of those well-meant goals fade after six weeks or so of challenges and weakening willpower. Intentions do something different inside us. They orient us through trial and error, both success and failure. They help convert an inner sense of Divine guidance into determined action. Continue reading

Invisible Ministry: Spiritual Accompaniment in Two Voices

by Christine Betz Hall and Becky Wood

Becky Wood & June Thomasson

Becky Wood & June Thomasson

W hat Else is God Doing Among Us? —Chris

Not the people whose words flow easily and often in worship. Not the teachers who open hearts to new ideas and ways of living faithfully. Not the prophets who beckon us forward into scary places, and offer hopeful promise of God’s inbreaking newness. There are invisible ministers among us.

Nurturing Spirit-led service over months and years in the Way of the Spirit program, I’ve noticed that folks with quieter and more hidden leadings in ministry are at a disadvantage. The wider Western culture values the folks up front, the bold leaders and cutting edge social critics. Our communities of faith could miss the chance to celebrate what else God is doing among us. And faithful people moved toward secret prayer for others or spontaneous spiritual accompaniment may discount or dismiss how the Life and Power of the Holy is working through them.

Doing Something — Becky
This kind of ministry is like the body’s capillaries. Nobody talks about capillaries. But as a RN, I’m pretty aware of them. No one talks about capillaries succeeding or failing. They are the generally unspoken, invisible place of exchange in the body. It is a permeable place, small enough for tiny cooperations and transfers to take place. This is my image for the everyday goodnesses–the hidden ministries– the decisions that create space for the Holy to maneuver. Continue reading

The Transformer — Not Child’s Play

by Christine Hall

Transformer toy M aybe you’ve seen those mechanical toys that change shape from robots to planes or cars with the shifting of a few pieces? What I’ve seen in participants in the Way of the Spirit program is transformation that’s deep and lasting, no plastic hinges required. What is it like to be transformed in faith? I offer a few reflections and the words of a Way of the Spirit program alumnus to answer that big question.

As founder and director of Way of the Spirit, I’ve celebrated many participant transformations. I’ve learned anew that God’s kind of transformation is not a once-for-all-time thing. It may begin with a bang of commitment or build slowly from within. But it’s never done. In Way of the Spirit, we are privileged to walk together in faith over two years, through six retreats, private online sharing, and monthly group calls. Our transformations are hopeful and life-giving. We gain freedom, trust, and responsiveness to the Spirit. For sturdy transformation through big transitions and challenges, we all benefit from the support of a praying support circle like Way of the Spirit. Continue reading