Wisdom contends that intentional and disciplined spiritual practice is one of the primary means by which real human transformation takes place.

 
 

In Wisdom work we say it is not so much knowing more (in terms of information, theology, etc.), but knowing with more of us. It is, in other words, experiential. The transformational process and the practices that feed this radical change call upon and activate parts of us that we don’t ordinarily use or sometimes don’t even know we have. This kind of transformational spiritual practice thereby gives us a taste of what lies beyond our ordinary ways of seeing, thinking, and knowing.

 
 

I arrived at the threshold of this Wisdom understanding in a church basement in Brunswick, Maine,
on October 28, 1990.
 

There I met Cynthia Bourgeault for the first time. She had come to introduce a small number of us to the practice of Centering Prayer. My life and work would later turn out to be more directly guided and inspired by Cynthia after I reconnected with her in 2006 and began Wisdom training with her on a regular and intensive basis. I continue to learn from her and work with her to this day.  
 

Primacy of Centering Prayer

Although most of my earlier training and experience would clearly qualify as traditional, it has been the Wisdom work over the past dozen years or so and my nearly thirty-year commitment to Centering Prayer that have opened up new experiential dimensions to my life and has brought me to a new depth of awareness.

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Psychology, Religion, and Group Work

But besides ministry and religion, I have also long been interested in the intersection of spirituality and psychology, and especially group development, group dynamics, and group leadership. While in seminary in the early 1970’s, I took time off to get a Masters in Clinical Social Work and majored in Group Work. Following graduation from seminary and graduate school, I worked for over fifteen years first in a social work agency and then in private practice. There I led educational and therapy groups in both contexts, and I also taught courses in Group Process and Procedures, Group Development, and Group Leadership Skills in several graduate social work and graduate education programs.

 

Parish Ministry

In the early 1990’s I took a sharp turn to work in parish ministry. Even though I had been ordained since 1976, I had rather intentionally avoided explicit professional work in parish ministry. But in 1993, I was called to Trinity Church in Fayetteville, NY, and served this one parish for nearly twenty years.  During this time, however, I continued my interest in group work and especially its confluence with ministry in general and eventually with Wisdom spirituality in particular. This ongoing interest was nurtured and deepened in the late 1990’s by my completion of the Shalem Institute’s 18-month training program in “Transforming Community: Leading Wisdom Prayer Groups & Retreats.” By that time, as I have already mentioned, I had already been introduced to Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault and had traveled to Snowmass in the early 1990’s to take Thomas Keating’s ten-day intensive Centering Prayer retreat.

 

The Present

Having retired from the parish in 2013 to do full-time Wisdom work, I now lead Wisdom Schools and retreats in New York and New England and other parts of the country. I am also intimately connected to the Nine Gates Mystery School in California as a staff member and spiritual teacher. Additionally, I consult with individuals and groups in a process I call  Wisdom Mentoring.

 
 
“Bill has an extraordinary capacity to meet you exactly where you are on your spiritual journey, and to stay compassionately present with you in mind, heart, and spirit. Encouraged and supported by his wisdom and insight, I have come to a new appreciation for the richness and potential of everyday life, and to see the presence of Spirit in all things. Our regular conversations continue to have a transformational effect on my understanding of myself, my work, and the important relationships in my life. I am incredibly grateful for everything he is and does!”
— Darryl Caterine, Ph.D.: Professor of Religious Studies at Lemoyne College (Syracuse, NY)
“Bill radiates love and is passionate about Wisdom Work—-and that enthusiasm is palpable in his teachings and work with students. Coupled with his many years of training and experience on the Wisdom path, he is a generous teacher who creates an open and nurturing space for learning, growing, and deepening.

Whether guiding individuals or working in the arena of small group mentorship, Bill’s capacity to bring people along the Wisdom path and prepare them for Practice Circle Leadership is exceptional. Transparent, focused, and finely attuned, his depth and clarity of seeing allow him to offer light, support, and energy to each encounter.

Bill is an honorable and trustworthy guide on the path of Wisdom…. tenderly holding others’ hearts…. encouraging them to gently open in awareness and love.”
— Beth O'Brian: Wisdom teacher in and around Madison, WI.
“I have been regularly meeting with Bill for several years now and every session brings me clarity and insight, both personally and professionally. Bill’s honesty, encouragement, wisdom and unfailing compassion help create a space for my own heart to answer the hard questions that come up in trying to live a more spiritual life, and have helped me move through hard and uncertain times with more grace and peace. I am profoundly grateful for him - our work together has opened my life up to more happiness and serenity than I ever knew was possible.”
— Rev. Jana Biesanz: Ordained Interfaith minister, chaplain, writer