Notes on a Contemplative Approach to Reading Together
at Santa Monica Meeting
By the Meeting’s Adult Education Committee
Usually, six-ten people gather on the third First Day (Sunday) at 8:30 a.m. in the Meetinghouse. Adult Education has sponsored these monthly sessions since the beginning of 2016. We use a form of worship sharing to respond to texts; but, it’s not strict and doesn’t have many rules. What we do urge is a deep sharing from the heart.
We have chosen a wide variety of Quaker writings, of not more than two pages, with attention to George Fox’s Journal and excerpts from other Quaker texts such as Brinton and Kelly, various Pendle Hill Pamphlets and lectures, and other pamphlets including many works by Quaker women.
We share reflections about what happens during these contemplative reading sessions. In part, the group demonstrates what it means to be guided by the Spirit; we explore how to listen deeply to one another and this helps to create community; we practice our reading together in love for one another and for the Quaker contemplative process. We come from different perspectives and approach the readings by exploring our own inner experiences.
Our comments and reactions originate from an embodied, experiential knowing. Yet, at the same time, it’s a communal discernment process. This is an integrative process that invites a bringing together of the mind, the soul, and the heart in some embodied knowing.
We feel our process is a form of love in action. The texts launch each of us as individuals and as a group into the spiritual work of going to the depths of human experience. This is radical work, going to the roots of human experience, potentially unified and whole.