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Wisdom Leader: John Heermans

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John HeermansMeet John Heermans, from Essex Junction, Vermont. Here is how John describes himself and his Wisdom journey:

I was born in 1946 and grew up in New Jersey. In 1970, I graduated from the U of New Hampshire with a degree in forestry and joined the Peace Corps where I spent three years on the edge of the Sahara living in a Muslim community, smoking grass and reading Zen, the Bible, the Koran, and planting trees. Following Peace Corps, I joined a Gurdjieff acting school for one year in San Francisco, married one of the actors and moved back to the east coast. I continued to study Gurdjieff and rejoined the church of my up bringing – Episcopal. We moved back to Africa and I continued to work in forestry in agriculture throughout the continent until 2015 when I retired.

The only part of the Christian tradition that keeps me afloat is the mystical/wisdom slant that seems to be growing around the world.  I follow the John Main school of meditation with the World Community of Christian Meditation (WCCM), and have attended numerous retreats with Fr. Laurence. I don’t get hung up on whether the sitting is centering prayer, Christian meditation, Tibet or otherwise.  The main thing is to sit twice a day which is a challenge for me but I carry on. I continue to participate in the episcopal church in Vermont and meditate everyday and with a group once a week.

I was introduced to the work of Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr by one of the members of our group. I am currently during an online course on the Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr.

John Heermans and his wifeLast month, my wife and I went to France and pilgrimmed a portion of the Camino de Santiago. It was awesome. I also managed to find Gurdjieff’s apartment in Paris where he met with his group until his death. The apartment is still a meeting place for Gurdjieff students in Paris.

We have created a slide show that my wife (Cecilia) and I are presenting on June 11 at Saint James Episcopal Church in Essex Jct., Vermont covering our pilgrimage in France. (John’s slideshow is available in PDF format HERE.) We were married at Saint James (see slide) in 1989 and were inspired to hike the Santiago by the three scallop shells in stained glass windows.  Churches are closing throughout Europe but pilgrimage is on the rise!  People are hungry for spirituality in their lives.

Camino Slideshow

Most of my adult professional life was done throughout the continent of Africa working in agriculture and forestry.  I retired last year and now have time to invest in trying to spread the wisdom tradition in Vermont and elsewhere as the only hope that I see to save this troubled planet.  I have no training in wisdom teaching or how to set up a school apart from the retreats that I have attended with Father Laurence Freeman who is the current ‘director’ of the WCCM.  The WCCM  just bought a majestic old Monastery in Bonnevaux, France that is on the Camino de Santiago and we plan to hike that section next year and possibly volunteer at the Monastery.  (See WCCM website HERE for details).

In Vermont, the Episcopal church is losing more churches every year.  It needs a major injection of wisdom teaching and new/young bones.  The one saving grace is a group of people who are in the process of setting up an intentional community at the awesome Rock Point Center that overlooks Lake Champlain with a view of the Adirondacks.  It has a beautiful chapel and a retreat/conference facility.  I am working with three others from the group to organize a six day wisdom retreat and look into the possibility of joining forces with others in the wisdom movement. The community would be a focal point for Vermont and also a beautiful place for retreats for the northeast.  I am also interested in looking at more collaboration and interaction between WCCM meditation ‘circles’ and wisdom school circles.  They are basically the same, but I’m not sure if/how they interact.

 

John Heermans on Camino

 

Inspiring Words of Wisdom (Community members can share inspirational quotes HERE):

From Thomas Merton ( …not an exact quote)

When God created man, he asked a question. He answered the question when he sowed the seeds of contemplation to earth.

 

 

 

 

 

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