Peg Bartel – Alexandria, VA

Peg’s spiritual journey wound through a mainline denomination as a child, then took a turn into Quakerism and finally into “an aggressively atheist” Unitarian Universalist church where, as a devout theist, she remained for several years until an experience of deeper knowing opened up for her. That experience came in the form of Cynthia’s The Wisdom Jesus. She had “tilled the ground” of her soul through intense searching in the writings of Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr, Karl Rahner, Henri Nouwen, the canonical and gnostic gospels as well as in the histories of the middle east trying to understand “this Christ who was somehow sitting in the living room of my heart as I peered out at him from behind the curtain.”

Her ‘ah ha’ moment came in the spring of 2012 when she attended the Gerald May Lecture at Shalem Institute where Cynthia was the keynote speaker. It catapulted her into the wisdom track which she has been faithfully cultivating and plowing into both her own and others lives. In January 2014, she realized she was being “offered something and I knew I was being asked to do something.” After a few twists and turns, she found herself later that spring, early one Tuesday morning, in a deserted parking lot of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church. A silent prayer group was supposed to meet, and Peg knew that she had found “what I was being offered: a community that would become central to my spiritual life. There is a wisdom in my life that is not mine and somehow as I renewed my commitment to contemplative prayer and to a spiritual tradition and community, other things flowed.”

In August of 2014, much to her amazement, she was accepted into the Wisdom School at Glastonbury Abbey. She was still adjusting to the Christian milieu after being away for nearly 50 years, so it was “all a bit of a deer-in-the-headlights experience, but amazing in every way.” As for holding the post Peg writes:

“It is first a relationship and therefore cannot be possessed. We are the riverbeds and only as the spirit flows through you does the bed deepen. Another is that God meets us where we are at– not with loud trumpets or clashing cymbals–but with a simple invitation: come and see. Finally, there is this incredible self-emptying love that I simply stand in awe of. So I can’t say that I have done anything to hold the post­­–rather I found myself wanting to share what I had found–but as an offering, not a demand. I was never wounded by the church of my youth, but somehow in conversations with others who had been, I took on their woundedness. It left me with a deep desire for people to be free, free spiritually to work out whatever relationship they and God had found together.”

Peg has helped to launch the Center for Spiritual Deepening at St Aidan’s Church. Her priest, John Baker, and others recognized the confluence of needs and interests “to provide a place where people could encounter spiritual practices and insights that would help them in their journeys–a place of opening and invitation. You can almost feel the Spirit moving there.”

“At the Center we wanted a mix of programming. Age-old spiritual practices as well as approaching the spiritual life through the arts or the practice of daily living. I’ve learned the importance of being faithful and of simple offering. You have to let go of results, of any expectations you might have. Also, to use another Quaker term, I am always holding up what I do to the light, even if I am convinced that I am right. I put aside my conviction and hold the question in the emptiness of silence and wait…sometimes for months, even years…When the answer comes and I look back at the waiting, I see the wisdom.”

“When I lift up the jagged edges in my spiritual journey, the answer is always the same: just sit. Contemplative practice is central to my being.” For Peg Teilhard, Jacob Boehme, the Trinity, and Law of Three are pivotal pillars in her own understanding and becoming. “This connectivity with all that has been, all that is, and all that will be…is a dream big enough for the universe that we barely perceive…This yearning of God to know God’s own self, the anguish of God bursting into the Trinitarian love of God and pouring out into the manifesting universe in a cascading trinity of creation. I know it is more than just a theological abstract. It is the beating heart of creation. It has practical implications for the way we live our spiritual lives, for who we are in our deepest essence.”

Peg is a post-holder extraordinaire! Her efforts to further the wisdom way of knowing in the Alexandria,VA area are finding a resonate chord in the hearts of many there. Keep up the great work, Peg!

More About Peg Bartel

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Margaret (Peg) Bartel has been a member of the Wisdom School community for several years. She is a CPA/MS who has her own business and resides in Alexandria, VA.