Postcards from Stonington

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Stonington, Maine, June 2018. The small village welcomes us to its contemplative charms, seemingly as unchanging as its namesake granite blocks. An island at the bottom of a peninsula, at the edge of a time zone. The picturesque harbor captures our attention of course, and if anything in Stonington could be called bustling, this would be it. But really, there is no need to hurry here. The streets are lined with lilacs and lupine. The sidewalks are optional, as we mosey down the center of the Main Street.


And there it is! Our daily focal point for the coming week, the Stonington Town Hall. More than a hundred of us settle into the second floor meeting room as we embrace the pace and flow of the week: early morning meditation, teaching, work time, communal lunch. Then an afternoon of teaching, meditation, and contemplative movement. For some of us, we are meeting Cynthia and the Northeast Wisdom community for the first time; for others it’s a welcome reunion.


For us, Allen Bourque’s daily exploration of merging contemplative movement with other intentional practices was a sweet spot in the day. Thank you Allen!


The Tuesday evening of Taizé chant at the local Catholic Church was serene, beautiful, and lively. I have experienced Taizé services before, but never as a component of the larger Wisdom world.


Wednesday was a midweek day for exploration. One group ferried to Eagle Island on a lobster boat for a visit to Cynthia’s island hermitage.


The band of Wisdom seekers follows Cynthia past Bob and Helene Quinn’s farm, site of the first Eagle Island Wisdom School in 2001.


Cynthia’s self-built home and hermitage of 15 years. We broke into small groups, some working, some exploring, some just enjoying the beauty. I had never read A Wisdom Way of Knowing, and knew nothing of Wisdom groups. But I found myself in a Wisdom gathering on Eagle Island, at Cynthia’s home, reading the opening chapter’s description of a Wisdom School that took place17 years prior on Eagle Island! It was a very non-local moment, and others in the group commented on it.


 

We shared a lunch that included lobster, had some fun, and departed Eagle Island, back to Stonington.


The Wisdom week included daily work periods followed by lunch at the Stonington Odd Fellows Hall.


Quiet moment of preparation before the day’s first teaching session.


There was a children’s program in the week’s activities, and on the last day they shared their work with the larger group.


 

Friday night’s activity was a recital/concert/book signing at the gWatson Gallery. “The Good, the True, and the Beautiful” featured Edith DeBartolo on piano, with the Wisdom Collegium Musicum, and Cynthia conducting!


All quiet in the Stonington Town Hall. The hand drum, meditation cushion, and bowl bell reflect on a week of wonder, goodness, and truth. In readings, teachings, movements, the natural beauty of our surroundings, and the experience of our shared hearts, we returned positive energy to the source that has given us so much.

 


These Postcards from Stonington are of this world–a world of town halls, meditation cushions, window washing, music and friends. What really took place in Stonington seemed from another world. I have thought back on the experience, interpreting it, trying to bring that world into my own. It’s not easy, bringing ancient wisdom to life inside myself! I wish I could go back to Stonington! But I know that what was given to me there did not come from a lobster village in Maine. The books, videos, and online courses can help, but it’s up to me to make a peaceful, quiet place in my heart to allow this timeless Wisdom to manifest.

posted July 14, 2018 by William Britten

 

 

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