Preparing for the first session of the Academy for Spiritual Formation

Stacey & J.R. Atkins to attend the Academy for Spiritual Formation
It’s July 1st and J.R. and I are busy preparing for the first session of the Academy for Spiritual Formation.

Maybe I’d better tell you what the Academy for Spiritual Formation is before I go much further in our discussion. It is a two year program of study covering various subjects all focusing on different aspects of spiritual formation. For instance, in the first session which begins on July 21st and ends on July 26th, our topics are “Attentiveness to the Word: Spiritual Formation and Scripture” taught by Jane Patterson, and “Traditions of Christian Spirituality” taught by Roger Owens. In preparation we have been assigned four books to read prior to the sessions. So, over the course of the two years we will be reading 32 books about different aspects of spiritual formation. Right now J.R. and I are spending our free time doing lots of reading!

Texas location for the Academy for Spiritual FormationEach of the 8 sessions last 5 days and are held in San Antonio, Texas at the Oblate Renewal Center. During each of the 5 days we will have 3 prayer times, times of learning, times of silence, and free time. A holistic approach is taken, meaning that all aspects of our ‘human-ness’ are taken into account. Our physical selves are addressed with physical exams being required before the first session so that healthy practices can be started. Our minds are engaged through class work and discussions. Our spiritual natures are fed through the silences, journaling and praying. We even have play time to enjoy the beautiful grounds of the center, swim in the pool, go for a run or walk, and spend time in fellowship with each other. J.R. plans to continue his Yoga sessions.

I realize to some of you this may just sound like glorified vacation time, but there is much more to it than that. Serious study will be taking place throughout the two years. Personal spiritual growth is hard work; however, the goal is not personal gain so much as it is to take what is discovered from participation in the Academy and share it with others. Some of us will be using the academy experience as two of five credits required to earn a certificate in spiritual formation. This will equip us even more to help others grow in spirit, with the ultimate goal of growing closer in our relationship with God and helping others do the same.

I expect that J.R. and I will change significantly over the next two years, in both noticeable and not so noticeable ways. We hope to have your support while we go through the Academy. It is a huge commitment for us in terms of time and money, as well as stretching ourselves intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

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