Reflections on a Wisdom School

Last month, twenty-nine brave souls gathered at Valle Crucis Conference Center in the beautiful Valle Crucis, NC, to explore Wisdom through the lens of the Enneagram. Locating our work within the framework of Gurdjieff’s five ‘Obligonian Strivings,’ we discovered that it is from the foundation of abundance, goodness and yearning, that we are invited to wield agency through growing knowledge, being and presence in order to then take our posts as responsible stewards of energy and servants of the whole. The group’s aim honored this invitation as we spent three days working seriously with the “conscious striving to know more and more about the laws of world-creation and world maintenance.” This being the Third Striving and reflecting the practical, objective and cosmic “Law of Three” and “Law of Seven” respectively.

As Cynthia so perceptively and prophetically highlights in her book The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, there is a burgeoning movement at play in culture, emerging as the reconciling force of real inner work that is bringing together the more popularly known Enneagram of Personality with seeking hearts. This seems to be quickening for many as a magnetic invitation into a more spacious freedom of seeing from real identity.

Progressing enneagram students rapidly develop the capacity to see that they are in fact not their type; it is simply an impersonal, mechanical pattern that plays out within them. A shift in the sense of selfhood begins to occur, so that they reside less and less in their outer personality manifestations and more and more in their inner witnessing presence.[1]

Taking our place among this greater collective movement, our group worked to integrate this into our bodies by meditatively walking and studying the symbol. We wrapped this in deep group processing and relational exchange while honoring the great silence holding our container. We purified our individual atmospheres, quickly recognizing that our group was becoming a sacred opening. We were receiving help from beyond through infusions of grace. And from this stilled and cooled collective platform we peered into the gorgeous vision of the Christian path, embodied in Jesus’ concentrated I AM presence and a willingness to donate it all for love. Individual identity known within a relational field of exchange. The western path revealed through the dance of personhood in our midst, inviting us in. Together we tasted and saw.

Jeanine and I would like to thank each person who gathered with us for this work. May it collect and continue to consolidate in our midst.

I’ll close with the lengthy theological quote shared on our opening night from Constance Fitzgerald’s talk, From Impasse to Prophetic Hope, as she quotes the twentieth century philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, because in its own way it so nails what it means to work on behalf of the whole.

I offer it as an ongoing encouragement for us all as we take seriously the humble work of Wisdom within the givens of our life’s circumstances and the precious time we have standing in this mi-fa gap of mixtus orbis.

What comes to mind is the statement of Leon Blum who, imprisoned in a Nazi camp, wrote: “We work in the present, not for the present.” Genuine dedication in working does not see the applause of one’s own time. It devotes itself in dark trust to “a time which lies past the horizon of my time.” Surfacing here is the eschatological meaning of “some work.” Our work in this age is fragmentary, part of a whole we cannot take in from where we sit. It is only a completely naked faith which knows that this “some” is bound up with a body of the Messiah I can neither conceive nor organize. By disinterestedly stepping outside of myself in work I exercise myself in darkly trusting the End. As worker I abandon the prospect of “personally experiencing the outcome” of my work. This work is essentially prophetic: it works “without entering the Promised Land.” This prophetic eschatology is free: delivered from the snares of calculation, delivered from the nihilism of uncommitted game-playing and waste. And stronger: in dark trust discerning a triumph “in a time without me….” The prophetism of this work is located precisely in this eschatology without hope for myself….” Really working exceeds the boundaries of one’s own time. It is action for a world that is coming, action which surpasses this time, action in which I surpass myself, and in which the yearning for an epiphany of the Other is included.[2]

[1] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Boulder: Shambala, 2013), 58.

[2] Constanze Fitzgerald, From Impasse to Hope presented to the Catholic Theological Society in America in 2009.

 

Jonathan lives in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas with his wife, dogs and three children. His Wisdom work comes out of a blend of the Christian Contemplative tradition and 4th Way spirituality with a focus on companioning others from the unified and collective field accessed through the heart.  He is a life-long seeker who offers private Spiritual Direction in person or by zoom, one-to-one or in groups. His work and practice also include companioning the sick, dying, and their families through hospice chaplaincy. You can find out more about Jonathan through his personal website: jonathanlsteele.co

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on a Wisdom School

  1. I am deeply touched by such work. Inspired by those who walk this path, I will continue to explore, to meditate and listen with awe. Thank you for giving another glimpse into this larger picture of the universe

  2. Deep bows of gratitude Jonathan, Jeanine and all the weavers of the gracious work given in Valle Cruces. It is food!

    Peace and Love
    Thomas

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