Meeting for Learning
A year long program of Quaker spiritual reflection which begins and ends with six night residential Retreats.
Retreat week in Brisbane
Friday 25th September – Thursday 1st October 2015
Retreat week in Victoria
2016/2017 Victorian Regional Meeting hosting dates and venue to be advised.
Information about Meeting for Learning
Quaker Meeting for Learning is a year-long program that commences and finishes with a week-long residential retreat. It is a time of inner seeking of the Spirit and learning about Quaker ways in company with members and attenders from around Australia. For most of the year-long program, individuals remain part of their regular community; the residential retreats provide the opportunity for individuals to commence and complete their Meeting for Learning spiritual journey in the company of others undertaking the same process.
Themes for the retreats alternate. In 2015 the Retreat will focus on the spiritual life of our faith community. The 2016 Retreat will focus on our individual inner journey.
Listening to ourselves and each other is a spiritual exercise which often leads to deep insights, transformation and discernment. Much time is devoted to deepening our listening skills, among other practices that are based on Friends’ long history of spiritual nurture and faith in action.
Another highlight of each Retreat is a mid-week silent day and night. Some participants feel nervous about this beforehand, and then find that extended silence in community is an enriching experience. A facilitator is always available during the Silent Day.
Between Retreats the process goes on with a Support Group you choose from your local Meeting. These are friends who are willing to empathise and encourage while you choose some areas to work on – maybe personal growth or a task within your worshipping community. Sharing this journey is a rich part of the Retreats. There are many other ways of expressing our being and some of them are explored together and in personal time.
The size of the group at each retreat is up to 12 participants, who are guided by three or four facilitators during the Friday to Thursday retreat. The facilitators provide reading materials, sessions, exercises and guidance to assist each participant’s spiritual journey. The resources provided allow each retreatant to develop their knowledge of Quaker writings and beliefs, and to reflect on their own journey. Each day’s format is similar (with the exception of the silent day mid-week), allowing time for discussion, exploration and reflection. During the retreat, some activities are carried out as a whole group, some are conducted in small groups and some exercises are undertaken individually. Both structured and unstructured time is included in the retreat.
I am a keen promoter of the program myself, as I benefited greatly from doing it, as long ago as 1998-99. The major project I did was related to a curiosity and concern regarding the emotional wellbeing of young adults connected with Quakers – how do they deal with the difficult challenges of our world, and overcome the risks of depression/anxiety and despair?… A more personal project was keeping a Meeting for Worship journal over a 6-month period. This included when I didn’t go to Meeting for Worship, and why not. I found that all very useful. I felt very nurtured by my support group in Canberra, and the retreats were rich experiences in Quaker community….
Meeting for Learning was a turning point in my Quaker life, not only the retreats, also working with my support team for the year and these people still play an important role in my spiritual growth. Meeting for Learning also gives Friends an opportunity to meet with Interstate Friends and thus connect with other Regional Meetings.