Seeking union with spirit: Experiences of spiritual journeys (Paperback)
Although originally daunted at being asked to present the 2020 James Backhouse Lecture to Australian Friends, Fiona Gardner came to find that the opportunity encouraged her to reflect more deeply on her own journey and what might usefully be shared with others. For over twenty years, Fiona has participated in facilitating the Meeting for Learning (a year-long program for spiritual nurture, designed to explore Spirit and Quaker ways), and lives with her partner in a small intentional community that has been a place of spiritual nurture and learning. She has worked as a social worker for many years and now as a university teacher, particularly in fostering critical reflection and spirituality for social workers and critical spirituality for pastoral care workers. A continuing challenge in her spiritual life has been how to integrate her spiritual being in all of these aspects of her life. "Why seek to live life in union with Spirit? Such a life, in my experience and that of many others, is a fuller, richer, meaning filled and deeper life, connected to that which is eternal. It means moving from what is often called the 'divided life', beyond opposing forces to a place of wholeness, to integrating all of who we are in all that we do. To do this means holding together these opposites." Fiona Gardner is a longstanding member of Victoria Regional Meeting, based within the Bendigo Worshiping Group. She has also played a significant role nationally in the development of Meeting for Learning over the years, as a facilitator and coordinator. Her professional work is as a social worker primarily in rural areas, and for the last seven years she has been coordinator of the Department of Social Work at La Trobe University Rural Health School, and researching and writing related to the place of spirituality in social work and allied health. She also teaches a unit in critical spirituality at Stirling Theological College with pastoral care workers and ministers, mainly from a variety of Christian traditions. Fiona Gardner came to the Religious Society of Friends in her mid-thirties, convinced by the depth and power of silent worship, the warmth and welcome of Quaker community and social commitment. She is part of a small worshipping group in rural Victoria and has been fortunate to be a facilitator of Meeting for Learning since its beginning in 1996.