Apple seeds

Apple seeds of the variety “Pinova”. By André Karwath, Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons


Words are of course woefully inadequate when it comes to describing an underlying Reality.

Appleseed is a ministry offering workshops, retreats and other events, mostly at Woodbrooke, combining head-and-heart learning with simple arts-based response activities and worship sharing, rather than being based on discussion.

Sessions sometimes look at a variety of sources – poetry, autobiography, journals, photography, etc. – to explore the nature of our interior and exterior ‘landscapes’, the interplay of symbols and reality, and the experiences of moving on and staying behind.

In the process of opening up to their own stories, participants risk venturing off-map into ‘Here Be Dragons’ territory!

Experiment with Light

Book: Light To Live By

One of Rex Ambler’s books

This is a practice devised by Quaker theologian Rex Ambler based on his study of early Friends’ writings about their discoveries. Rex was struck by the way Fox described the Light as something which ‘discovers’ and shows us, when we are attentive, our true condition, including our wrongdoings; and he noted how Fox urged his listeners to undertake a specific meditative process aimed at perceiving this Light.

A number of different meditations have now been developed and there are now approximately 100 ‘Light Groups’ that use these, with participants sharing their experiences. Regular workshops take place at Swarthmoor Hall, Charney Manor and sometimes at other centres.

Experiment with Light remains a grass-roots movement with very little central coordination. In his book Light to Live By, Rex compares early Quaker meditation with a technique called focusing, developed by the psychologist/philosopher Eugene Gendlin. The Therevada and other schools of Buddhism have been doing something similar – in the form of Metta Bhavana  (meditation for cultivating ‘loving-kindness’) – for thousands of years.


Kindling a fire

Image: The Outdoor Club, whose Ecominds Project takes people who have experience of mental distress into the outdoors one day a week over an 11 week period. (The club has no connection with Quakers.)

This is an experimental group (a North West London Area Meeting project) working to ‘rekindle’ the power of Quaker worship by renewing and deepening our spiritual practices.

Regular workshops are held at Friends House in London as well as on-the-road at local meetings. ‘Threshing’ sessions encourage an engagement with contemporary religious perspectives. Outcomes of the work are published in accessible booklets for personal and study group use.