Virtual Spiritual Community
Today’s post is by Clair Ullmann
Can you imagine living in an area where no one speaks your language well? Can you imagine living in an area where you are hours away from a place of worship and faith community that is familiar to you? What would you do to connect to a spiritual deepening in your mother tongue? These questions occupied my mind and heart for many months and then one day I read about the online courses at Shalem.
Even though I have lived for many years outside the United States, this is the first time I have lived in an area so remote to everything with which I am connected. We live in a beautiful, spirit-filled place surrounded by nature, and still there was a yearning in me to connect and share this with others. That being said, we do have a vibrant and connected community here where the language is German. That is not in essence a problem, but when it comes to things of the heart, I find the nuance of English expresses more fully the indwelling of my true self. Of course, that is almost impossible in any language.
With the online courses at Shalem, I have found a very successful way of connecting with others in our “virtual spiritual community.” We have a sub-group that meets through a conference call during the online courses. It gives us an opportunity to share our reflections and wonderings as we deepen our connection with one another and with the world.
We come from many countries in Western Europe and some parts of the USA. Distance and space is not an issue (except with the time difference!). Our common thread is that we are all living in a place that is not where we were born. We are strangers in a foreign land. This connects us in a particular way and so we engage in the online courses in a particular way of being.
It is actually an enhancement of the courses because we also journal and read the journals of other participants so our overall experience is very fruitful. There also seems to be an honesty and vulnerability that comes from not knowing the other people in our sub-group. I am the only one who knows everyone else, so the musings and reflections come from a virgin place of innocence and wondering because no one is worried about what is said or where it will go or even being judged.
Another aspect that is recognized and appreciated is that the space of silence is well respected and there is great respect in allowing other participants to form their thoughts without jumping in to supply words that in the end may not express the deep thoughts of the speaker. During our calls, there is no sense of time commitment. It is as though time does not exist and we are in kairos, a very special state of being.
For those who are looking for opportunities to connect with others in a new and exciting way, this is really a good and proven path. Before joining an online course, I contact those who, I believe, would find it as helpful as I do. After those who want to register have registered, we begin our sub-group with introductions and a pre-call and then we get started.
Thankfully, we have found a way to live globally and still be connected with the Other and with others through the online courses and the sub-group. One complements the other and together we are deeply enriched and fed. Our hope is that each course will join us closer together in spirit and love.
Shalem is currently offering an online course entitled: Opening to the Spirit, led by Carole Crumley. This six-week course focuses on nurturing presence through body, breath & mind. Gather a group of friends and take the course together for a discount! The course begins on September 18. Register here!