"For the first time you [lift your heart to God with stirrings of love], you will find only a darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing ... And so I urge you, go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest." - The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works, Anonymous 14th Century Christian Mystic
What do you think you know about God? What have you been told? What were you taught? What images come to your mind?
What if you gave yourself time to name those things, and permission to let some, or even all of that go?
In this second session of the series Discovering Spirit Within Ourselves, we will explore these queries and more, and give ourselves permission to let go of our answers to them, by exploring the ancient mystical spiritual practice of “unknowing” God — also known as apophatic or “negative” theology, or even unsaying God. This will be an interactive hybrid (in-person and on Zoom!) workshop, where participants will engage with readings, queries, journaling, and discussion to engage deeply.
Attending previous sessions is not a requirement for participating!
This workshop is for everyone — Quakers and non-Quakers, no matter where you fall on the question of "God" (including theists and non-theists), or whether you have engaged in a practice like this before. In fact, most of us have already learned and likely let go of some concepts of God at some points in our life — from understandings that we have added nuances to as we've aged and matured, to changing faith traditions.
Things we will do with our time together:
We will begin with a grounding practice and introduction
We will engage with several short readings, including selections from The Cloud of Unknowing, an anonymous work by a 14th-century Christian Mystic, as well as more contemporary readings in apophatic theology.
We will have time to journal in response to these readings.
We will engage with queries through journaling and discussion.
We will have time for silent, "waiting worship" in the manner of Quakers, as a group.
We will have a break! :) And lots of time off-camera for those who are on Zoom.
About the workshop leader:
Jen Higgins-Newman, is a convinced Friend, theologian, feminist, and mystic. Jen holds a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and serves as the Program Director at Beacon Hill Friends House where she plans programs to cultivate and nurture community and our spiritual lives.
Beacon Hill Friends House is an independent Quaker not-for-profit organization that operates a 20-person community residence, overnight guest accommodations, meeting and event space, and public educational programming in a large historic house in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. The Friends House exists to provide opportunities for personal growth, spiritual deepening, and leadership development, drawing inspiration and guidance from the values, principles, and practices of the Religious Society of Friends.