On March 26, 2020, three months after he completed his term on the Northeast Wisdom Council, Guthrie Sayen and Laura Ruth had a conversation. Guthrie has both a poet's mind and an organizational sense that honors simple, clear, honest communication. He brought a deep trust in the heart of God and inner orientation to the Christian mystical tradition to NEW, as well as his skills as a developmental thinker, ultimately pragmatic, and thoughtful listener. Guthrie was one of four in a new wave of board members who joined the Council in the spring of 2017. In Guthrie's words:
How I came to meet Cynthia Bourgeault was an uncanny example of the mysterious workings of the Holy Spirit. A coaching colleague, in a conversation in 2011, mentioned “Wisdom School.” I asked him to rate it on scale of 1 – 10, and he said 9.5. Then I received an unexpected call in 2012, from Cathy McCarthy: “You are at the top of the waitlist. Do you want to join the Wisdom School at Bethany?” I said yes.
I didn’t even know I had signed up, let alone that it was Christian! A few weeks before the retreat I took a look at the reading list—that is when I first found out about centering prayer. I was blown away at the retreat. In its mystical heart, here was Christianity, Wisdom and love without any of the exoteric baloney. It was pure esoteric gold, and the opening of the table to all made me weep.
I took notes like crazy, and read all of Cynthia’s books. I talked my way into the 2013 Ground Luminosity retreat at Bluestone Farm where Bill Redfield and I were on the same conscious work team. I loved the way we all worked together—what a wonderful learning curve. We always moved to another job; it was like a class in not specializing, and yet each meal tasted better and was prepared with more efficiency. I was intrigued by the conversations that were taking place on the side.
Cynthia’s radical approach impressed me; and her teaching—I am an ex-academic—was right on. She spoke in perfect paragraphs, developing arguments that you could not quibble with unless you were willing to throw the whole premise out. I was amazed intellectually, and her eccentricity just charmed me. I love the rigor of her mind and the heart of the teaching.
Another turning point in my psycho-spiritual development happened when I was a coach and beginning to train coaches. I knew this was more than a career, but I had not fully dialed in the calling. I met Tim Kelley, founder of a method called True Purpose, designed essentially for allaying our fears around connecting and opening to guides from the divine to receive guidance. That changed me.
I learned more truly who I am. I came up with four statements about my True Purpose. The first is an Essence Statement. I learned, “I am a bridge to the divine.” The second is the Blessing or my Gift, the third is my Mission, and the final statement is my Message. When you work seriously with these things it is humbling—not egoic.
This work fits so well with Internal Family Systems (IFS)—a system that I also work with in my coaching practice with individuals. It is about bringing Self-energy to the planet; like Loch Kelly’s “awake awareness” or “effortless mindfulness.” Or you could call it Christ Consciousness. In IFS we learn how to allow “protector parts” to soften back—opening access to the divine within—and it becomes possible to be in conversation with your spiritual guides discerning your True Purpose.
It is all about healing and waking up, and what is revealed is the true Self. We can do this for an organization, or for the whole country. With a few people we can do this for anything—for instance, finding the true purpose of coronavirus, or alcoholism. A service I brought to the Northeast Wisdom board was this kind of visioning.
In the spring of 2017, the founding board was changing: John Daly had completed the initiatory work of incorporating NEW in 2013, and served through 2016. Now, three more of their very competent team were moving on. As president, Patricia Speak had deployed her many gifts to establish NEW on a stable footing with the very able help of treasurer Alec Wiggin and board member Jean Smith. We miss Patricia’s commitment, Alec’s particular sense of humor, and Jean’s steady clarity.
Bill Redfield, now board president, knew in his sagacity that Northeast Wisdom was ready for a shift. In the fall of 2017, the four junior members joined founders Bill and Matthew Wright at Holy Cross Monastery to engage in a three-day visioning process. I led a crash course in finding our spiritual guides, and with their help, we listened together for the essence, gift, mission and message of NEW. We were finding divine purpose and coming into alignment with it.
What I loved about my service was that the board truly functions as a Wisdom Council. We sit together and allow the heart connections to open. Through an open discussion people make their offerings. Sometimes these are quite disparate and seemingly incompatible; but we listen deeply to each person. No one is attached to having their idea be the prevailing idea. There is a willingness to modify, even to flip positions, as each feels into the emerging Wisdom. We dance with the greater Wisdom that arises when we attend to what is in the center of the conversation.
It is so efficient; it is as if we all have drums, and we tap and listen to the harmonies that want to emerge and then we find them—I love that! I remember saying something no one agreed with and it tweaked something in the space and what emerged was really clear, simple, easy, and practical. Such a teaching that was!
Our round table of seven people embodied service to Wisdom. Everyone at the table is indeed a leader, and Bill is a phenomenal chair who recognizes each one’s capacity to lead, and yet holds his post with grace as head of the Council. Each has their own flavor of Wisdom and we all deeply appreciated that. It was a pleasure for me to overlap with incoming council member Bob Sabath and experience his flavor of Wisdom.
Interestingly, being in a Northeast Wisdom Council meeting was a felt-sense experience. I was always a little amazed at what might come up. Always a little awed by everybody’s Wisdom. For me it is an honor to be in relationship with the people on the Northeast Wisdom Council.
Your friendship and fellowship have sustained me, matured me, and given me great pleasure. Among the many things I value about the NEW board is the quality of the listening. No matter how attached any of us may have been to a position, no one ever stopped listening, and we always found a consensus. I think of listening as the first act of love, and this act of love each extends to each when the Council is in session. You have taught me what group deliberation can look like. I bow in gratitude to the living flame of Christ that I see in each of you.
Love and blessings,
A Note from Northeast Wisdom
The Council is grateful for Guthrie’s two and a half years of service to Northeast Wisdom. His practice and expertise with the visioning process played no small part in facilitating the transition from a budding yet stable and functioning organization, to a Council who, in Guthrie’s words, “was to become an embodiment of the Wisdom teaching.”
Guthrie had stepped naturally into the role of guide to the visioning process; but his participation extended further than that. He was supportive and enthusiastic about Northeast Wisdom’s foray into publishing, and excited by the creative potential in the Wisdom community and the Council’s capacity to meet and support that work. He championed NEW’s willingness to step into new projects and invite more participation.
The Council appreciated Guthrie’s quality of listening and his silence until he spoke—responding to the moment with the perspective of a spiritual heart, sound business practice, and regard for the human beings involved. Guthrie attended his final Northeast Wisdom Council meeting in December 2019.
More About Guthrie Sayen
Guthrie Sayen, PhD, lives in Connecticut with his wife Patricia. He is a senior member of the faculty at Coaching for Transformation and the Co-Founder and lead trainer for the coaching certification program at The Graduate Institute. Guthrie understands coaching “as a way to help normally functioning people to function optimally.” He has worked with coaches at all stages of their careers, from beginners to masters. He is certified by the International Coach Federation, the Coaches Training Institute, and the True Purpose Institute, and trained in Internal Family Systems, Voice Dialogue, Psychosynthesis, Four Archetypes Coaching, Lucid Living and Co-Active Leadership.