Unitarian Universalist congregations are often notable for the breadth and the quality of adult programming they provide.  But if these classes and practice groups can be faulted for any shortcoming it is probably this: lack of depth and little opportunity for learners to fully assimilate and build upon the insights and experiences they’ve received.  Quest, the First Unitarian Society of Madison’s two-year spiritual deepening curriculum, addresses this problem by providing a balanced curriculum of retreats, tutorials in spiritual practice, classes and small “integration groups.”

I participated in the early development of Quest and served as a mentor, spiritual practice guide and presenter for the first group of participants. Many graduates of the program subsequently moved on to assume leadership positions at First Unitarian Society, or to facilitate classes in spiritual development for other adults in our congregation. Quest provided them with inspiration, a strong motivation to serve and greater confidence in their abilities.  Since then, the curriculum has been significantly refined and become, I believe, one of the best of its kind that Unitarian Universalism has to offer.

The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Schuler
Senior Minister, First Unitarian Society of Madison

Create meaning

quest and directionsQuest came into my life as I was preparing for my retirement.  The final Quest retreat coincided with my retirement, and a part of the wisdom I gained through my experience with Quest was to be more intentional about how I would create meaning in my life.  From the moment I walked through the doors of my church home in 1983, I was involved -- in committees and Boards, and choirs and festivals, organizing conferences and painting walls, in pledge campaigns, church school and adult classes both as a teacher and learner, and all of the myriad tasks that await the hands, heart, and mind of the willing volunteer. 

I realized during Quest that I am of an age where I am ready to look back and reflect on the way I've lived my life, and what mark I want to make in the remainder of my time on this earth.  I realized I had entered my legacy years, but I needed some time to figure out just what I meant by that!  Immediately upon my retirement,  I announced from the rooftops that I was taking a sabbatical of sorts:  At least a year of saying NO to all of the many worthy, tempting, interesting opportunities that came my way.  

As I approached the end of The Year of the No, I decided it felt so good that I would extend it for six more months!  It was around that time that I got a call from Kelly Crocker asking me to be a part of a planning group that would spend about six months reviewing the Quest 1 evaluations, revising the curriculum for Quest 2, and developing the curriculum for publication outside FUS. Imagine my surprise (and Kelly's) when I found myself saying "yes."  Not a hesitant yes, or a well-somebody's-gotta-do-it yes, but an immediate, unquestioning yes.  And it was an even better Yes than I could ever have imagined, as the "about six months" turned into many more months of often intense but always insightful, rewarding and important work. 

In the process of working with the incredible group of people who comprised the planning team, I found a depth to my life experiences that I had never encountered.  It was a rare collaboration, one of great respect, nurturing and building on each other's ideas, a lot of laughter, and even a few tears.  And so Quest for me became the gift that keeps on giving, and may it be so for you as well.

Lorna Aarronson
Quest 1 Participant and member of the Planning Committee

  • Photo by Joyce Carey
  • Photo by Lorna Aaronson
  • Water Color by Ann Schaffer
  • Photo by Lorna Aaronson
  • Photo by Joyce Carey
  • Photo by Harry Carnes
  • Water Color by Ann Schaffer

"Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."  –  Rumi