Meeting for Learning
The next Meeting for Learning year starts on 18th – 24th September 2016 with a week-long retreat and will end around the middle to end of September 2017 with another week-long retreat. The retreats will both be held at the Don Bosco Centre near Lysterfield on the outskirts of Melbourne in rural countryside with good walks.
Meeting for Learning could be described as a year to focus on the spirit in our lives – a year of living intentionally in the spirit with support. It is an experiential way of learning and living experimentally. There is no curriculum of Quaker information, though the facilitators refer to Quaker writings and experiences which are compiled in a Resource Book that each participant receives.
The year starts with a retreat where we focus on our own individual journey in the spirit, and it ends with a retreat focusing on our spiritual journey within our faith community. The facilitators lead sessions on different themes that help us to connect with spirit, and there is plenty of time for contemplation, walking and resting. We meet in small groups every afternoon and practise ‘listening each other into being’. By the end of the week we have come to know each other well within the spiritual community we have formed together.
Between retreats, participants discern areas of their lives which are spirit led and pay attention to how they are being led. They form a support group for themselves of 3 or 4 or more Friends from their local Meeting and/or personal friends and family members. The participant meets with their support group monthly to seek further clarity in their leadings and to share their joys and struggles. Each participant has a Meeting for Learning facilitator to support them in staying linked in with the intention of their year.
We aim to have 12 participants each year and the fee for each retreat is around $850 per participant – this is mainly to cover the cost of accommodation and food. Participants are advised to ask their Meeting for financial support if needed and also to apply to the Thanksgiving fund. Qld RM contributed a lump sum towards the cost of the last two retreats in Brisbane. This was partly an acknowledgement of the gifts that come to the host RM, as the local Meeting for Learning participants bring back their retreat experience, their bonding, enthusiasm and commitment to Friends.
Meeting for Learning moves around the different RMs and we are prioritising F/friends from the RM where the retreats are held.
We hope to have requests to participate in next year’s Meeting for Learning by February next year. It makes sense for F/friends to express interest as soon as possible and be placed on a waiting list. They are advised to talk with someone who has participated in Meeting for Learning and, if they feel it is for them, to contact Fiona Gardner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Written by Jenny Spinks, one of the facilitators