The Quest by Joycelin Dawes

The Quest is an open, living, inquiry-based approach to Spirit designed to help you find your own answers.

Imagine a hexagonal room, with glass windows from top to bottom on four sides, looking out on a rain-drenched landscape in the English Yorkshire Dales, early Spring 2007.

storypic302.jpg‘We’ are seven people exploring our spiritual lives and its expression through our ‘sense of soul.’ One of the inspiring aspects of time spent at the Findhorn Foundation is the opportunity to practice this with others in community. But some people can’t travel to northern Scotland and some long for a ‘top-up’ once they have left that environment. The Findhorn Foundation supported the writing of The Quest: Exploring A Sense of Soul seeing its open, living, inquiry-based approach to Spirit resonating with that experienced at Findhorn. The Quest translates this into a book with a framework for exploring your way in today’s spiritual landscape: it acts like your facilitator, asking questions and providing a wealth of activities that support you to explore and renew your spiritual life, refreshing your connectedness with what is sacred. In our Yorkshire Dales group, some of us are here because we face significant points of decision, some of us just need time out to reflect and re-engage with our spiritual journey. Similar groups at Woodbrooke, a Quaker study centre in Birmingham, UK, drew a rich mix of people keen to reflect on their questions, deepen their connection with Spirit and practise this in daily life.

I started writing this article during a creativity evening using an activity in The Quest. We’re using crafts and art as a way of focusing on the creativity we bring to shaping each day of our lives, the creativity of getting up each day and addressing what is before us with a sense of soul. We’ve had time in Nature, reflected on what helps us feel connected and what gets in the way, done some deep inner listening, and explored the language we find comfortable around ‘God’ and what has been our experience of this mystery. The first morning we reminded ourselves of being present in the Now — in The Quest it’s called ‘Having An Experience;’ later we returned to this activity again, focusing on the question ‘What are we connecting with?.’ When we came back together we made our collage of connection.

By no means is everyone using The Quest in a group and it was written both for use by someone on their own and as the basis for sharing and exploring in a group. Some people use it as a regular resource for daily reflection, or just work through the material on their own over a period of time. Others get together with a friend and use it as a basis for their spiritual companionship, a friendship of peer support to reflect and be challenged on our spiritual journey. Whatever the way it is used, it seems to connect to something transformative in our lives and many people have found its impact life-changing.

How do people get started? Maybe they hear about the book and buy it from a local bookstore or on the Internet, start on their own or ask a friend to join them. Judith Lawrence, who lived at Findhorn for a while and is now a Findhorn Resource Person in Toronto, Canada, responded to seeing a notice in local paper: “A few years ago I bought the older edition of The Quest …Rediscovering a sense of Soul. Finally, a compilation of spiritual activities and practices that resonated with my experience at Findhorn, in a handy dandy manual! Then I put it away with all my other good intentions of starting a spiritual group. This year I had a breakthrough. Ryerson University Continuing Education Institute (called LIFE — learning is for ever) was looking for courses for older adults. I submitted a brief outline for a six week taster of The Quest and lo and behold we are now in the middle of the experience. I worked with Joycelin, one of the co-authors, for permission to adapt certain pages of the book and develop material that I could photocopy as I didn’t assume people would buy the book unless they wanted to continue the process. I emailed Joycelin a few times and received all kinds of support.

“Eighteen people signed up and paid a nominal amount for the course (use of room etc). The group is a wonderful mix of people who are not sure what spirituality means for them to others who are devout Buddhists and two who are Atheists. Fourteen women, three men, which is par for the courses in such topics. I made a folder for each of them and they come for a two hour group. I have found that they are warming up to discussion and telling about their experiences. There is so much to choose from the activities and readings that I found it confusing at times. Because I am visually impaired I had the book read onto CD format for me and I listened to it as I put the sessions together. So this experience stretched and challenged me. The group is responding well to the material and I look forward to session three when they will ‘Tell their Story.’ I am using the labyrinth and bringing paper, coloured marker and pens for them to record their story. Let’s hope the snowstorm that‘s brewing right now won’t deter them from showing up. The last two sessions are topics about The Changing Faces of Faith and What Changes? I want to continue the group for the spring session and possibly have a group in my home. Ambitious? Yes. Worthwhile? You bet!”

Joycelin Dawes

The Quest…Exploring A Sense Of Soul
by Joycelin Dawes, Janice Dolley and Ike Isaksen
2005, O Books, UK
Price: £9.99/ US$16.95
ISBN 1 903816 93 9
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