This spring a collective of three Wisdom teachers, Marcella Kraybill-Greggo, Jeanine Siler Jones and Heather Ruce, completed an eight month series of Wisdom Circles in their respective communities. They coordinated and supported one another as a group, working through the steps together from planning to de-briefing, as the cycle unfolded. The interesting thing about this collaboration was that it took place long distance, with the three women holding their posts in their groups on the same day in the northeast, the southeast and on the west coast; the groups working in concert in both time and content. Together, the three have written this piece for Breaking Ground, speaking to their commitment, how it yielded unexpected fruit, and evoked deep noticing. Thank you Marcella, Jeanine and Heather! Stay tuned to Breaking Ground for further conversation about their process.
In the summer of 2016 Marcella Kraybill-Greggo invited Heather Ruce and Jeanine Siler Jones into an experiment of collectively holding concurrent Wisdom Circles. This invitation was birthed in response to Marcella’s Wisdom students asking, ‘What’s next for us in Wisdom?’ Leaning into her prayer, Marcella felt drawn to experiment with simultaneous Wisdom Circles in different communities, in this case, in Pennsylvania, California and North Carolina. Beginning in fall 2016 each leader gathered groups of Wisdom seekers into monthly circles to deepen into the work of Wisdom. Groups met once a month from September through April, most often on the same day, and at the same time.
There was a variety in the size of the groups, the meeting spaces, and the length of time each group met. Each leader discerned what would work best in her community. As Wisdom appears by nature to be dynamically relational, each Wisdom seeker was ‘held in a hologram of community’. Leaders were grateful to have a ‘shared post holding community’ and group members were riveted to know that like-hearted others were simultaneously deepening in similar Wisdom practices. What happened collectively was the power that emerged from this experiment.
We followed a similar rhythm of gathering, grounding, Centering Prayer, chanting, Lectio Divina with the Gospel of Thomas, mindful movement and relevant Wisdom teachings. We communicated via email and regular Skype sessions about our plans, offering one another ideas, support and prayers. Inevitably something that caught the heart of one or another of the leaders, ended up finding its way into the Wisdom gathering of the other circles. Anchoring our day in the same logion and overall Wisdom teaching, we knew that as we each struck the beginning chime, others around the country were doing the same, holding collective Wisdom posts. We additionally often met as leaders the week after our gathering to listen to the ways that Wisdom had unfolded in our practice circles as each of us leaned into holding our respective Wisdom posts. It was remarkable to reflect on the ways in which Wisdom infused each practice circle, often taking on a life of Her own.
When we met for our last de-brief in May, gathering the graces of this experiment and naming what we had learned together, our biggest noticing was of a deep and collective sensation of gratitude. It felt clear that this way of working together wanted to be shared with our wider Wisdom community. We experienced together being cells in a growing body. We gained a deeper knowing of what it means to ‘bootstrap’ together. We felt together what is magnified when multiple communities come together with intention. When the horizontal container was broader and solid, the vertical infusion of Wisdom felt strong and powerful. We could sense the breadth of this connection in the collective throughout the hundreds of miles and time zones between us. Journeying together in this way seemed like what was needed to keep each one of us on the right path, engaging the next iteration of post holding in which Wisdom was inviting us to participate. While providing a Wisdom circle for those in our home communities, we were each simultaneously provided with a circle of Wisdom colleagues on whom we could rely and lean and with whom we could deepen our own Wisdom post-holding practice.
As we gathered these graces, we realized we could track the three lines of work that the Gurdjieff lineage teaches us: the individual, the group, and the cosmos/the world. There was individual growth we experienced as post holders as well as the growth of our students. The container of the group was strengthened as Wisdom poured forth from the groups and among our communities. The service to the world, while mysterious, seems to be rippling out as we see and feel what continues to evolve.We encourage anyone interested in this type of collaborative Wisdom post holding to find interested others and experiment in your home communities. If interested in tips or further insights from our ‘year of collaborative Wisdom leadership’ we would be happy to share more.
Jeanine Siler Jones, of Asheville, North Carolina, is a therapist, enneagram teacher and one of the “primary igniters of Wisdom School Southeast.” You can read more about Jeanine in Seedlings.
Marcella Kraybill-Greggo, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is Co-director of the Spiritual Direction Graduate Certificate Program at Moravian Theological Seminary as well as the Clinical Director for Moravian’s MA in Clinical Counseling. You can read more about Marcella in Seedlings and visit her work in the blog archives.
Heather Ruce lives in San Diego, California with her husband Charlie and their two dogs. She works as a Spiritual Director and Transformation Coach, working with individuals as well as facilitating groups and retreats focused on learning and practicing the Wisdom Tradition. She has been participating in Cynthia’s Wisdom Schools and retreats since 2012. She also has earned her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and is trained in Organic Intelligence, a model for building resiliency and healing trauma by creating higher levels of organization in the nervous system.