In Seeking Union with Spirit: Experiences of Spiritual Journeys, Victorian Friend, Fiona Gardner shares her spiritual journey, beginning with her childhood sense of spirit influenced by her family’s religious practice as Scottish Presbyterians. Born in Scotland, Fiona came to Australia with her parents when she was nine. The family continued to worship with Presbyterians in Australia, which gave them a sense of community.
For many years, Fiona, together with her partner Drew Lawson, has lived in a small intentional community in Bendigo, central Victoria. She values the spiritual nurture and learning gained by living in community.
In the lecture Fiona explores life in union with spirit using her own experience and the wisdom of others including contemporary Friends. The metaphor of a journey is employed along with extracts from Advices and Queries, poetry, story and Celtic prayer. There are two main themes:
“First what I see as the central pillars often experienced as tensions or paradoxes of the spiritual journey: having and reflecting on spiritual experience, the influence of history and social context, the challenges of darkness and light, and of love and truth and the value of paying attention to both our inner and external worlds.”
“The second main theme is around how we can nurture our spiritual selves as we travel though life. Here I will focus on the centrality of silence, the qualities of openness, honesty and humility, recognising gifts and discernment, paying attention to the ways of knowing that deepen your knowledge of self.”
Fiona also explains why she seeks to live a life in union with spirit, and how doing so has influenced her long career as a social worker and her current work as a university lecturer.
This year’s Backhouse Lecture is a courageous endeavour to define a spirit-led life and challenges readers to nurture their own spirituality on a daily basis, a difficult task in an increasingly secular world.
Sue Parritt, Backhouse Lecture Committee.