Wisdom Groups

 

Technology

One of the great gifts of living in this current age is the miracle of the Internet. On a platform such as Zoom, I am able to meet with a group of Wisdom students and enjoy meaningful interaction and community. With this methodology it is possible to have the faces of all of the participants on the screen at once. People can be linked from different time zones and even different countries. This is especially important in this nascent Wisdom community where many of us are quite isolated from each other.

There is nothing that needs to be downloaded or installed; all that is necessary is a stable Internet connection. Directions will be sent out before the group begins and dry runs can be scheduled so that all participants can feel confident with the technology when the group begins.

Meeting and Fees

Most of the groups are time-limited, that is, they run for a set number of consecutive sessions. Most have ten to twelve sessions that meet on the same day and at the same time every week. The fee will be listed with each group description** . This covers all the sessions, whether or not any sessions are missed.

Subject Matter and Group Themes

Currently, groups are called around lectio divina work with the Gospel of Thomas or some other specific text. Lectio ushers us into a deep reading of the text beyond the intellectual or academic level and offers us a heart-centered perspective. Thus, group norms are shaped around this lectio approach. This, by the way, is taught at the beginning of the group sessions; no previous experience or expertise is necessary.

My Group Background

I have spent most of my adult life working at the intersection of spirituality and psychology, and especially group development, group dynamics, and group leadership. While in seminary studying for the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church in the early 1970’s, I took time off to get a Masters in Clinical Social Work, at the Boston University School of Social Work, and there 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.

In the early 1990’s I took a sharp turn from my work in the world of psychotherapy, education, and group training 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.” Concomitantly, I had already been introduced to Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault, had taken (in the early 1990’s) Thomas Keating’s ten-day intensive Centering Prayer retreat in Snowmass, and had been engaged for several years in a practice of Centering Prayer and the beginnings of Wisdom practice.  

Shared Experiences of those Participating

Bill's skilled facilitation of our Gospel of Thomas group provided a safe environment for sharing and discovering the life changing nuggets in the Gospel of Thomas.  It was as if we were in the same room together.  We have profound conversations that we don't have in everyday life.

- Ellen K.

It’s a treat and privilege to be in a Zoom group with Bill. It’s not just that he brings a life-time of experience and wisdom to this work, but that his leadership style is so supremely sensitive, inclusive, generous, intuitive and fun. He has a way of drawing everyone in, thereby enabling the co-discovery of treasure and wisdom - found both within the participants themselves as well as in the text. The Zoom platform lends itself so well to this work, and with Bill at the helm it’s a profoundly illuminating, transformative, engaging, safe, riveting and hilarious experience.

- Heather V.


Bill's group, based on the Gospel of Thomas, is a highlight of my week. Bill is a wonderful teacher and leader. He is an experienced expert in Wisdom work and in facilitating groups. Bill has such a loving, compassionate and empowering style. One of Bill's many gifts is his ability to be attuned to people, to perceive how they are feeling and to sense the needs of the group, then to offer just the right prompt to create an opening for participation, reflection or insight. For me, the hour and a half we spend together, with Bill as our mentor, is simply magical. We meet through the internet using the "Zoom" platform. I had my doubts about how this would work, but it turns out to be easy and is the next best thing to sitting in a circle together. We can see faces and hear voices, and most of all look into each other’s eyes, all while we are in the comfort of our own homes. It is like being on a mini-retreat every week, minus the time and hassle of traveling. At the end of each meeting, I feel renewed, fortified, clear and energized to go back out into the world, living more and more from my heart.

- Sue H.

See available Wisdom Groups