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Robbie Pinter

Wisdom Tree Collective Spotlight: Meet Dr. Robbie Pinter

centering prayer robbie pinter spiritual direction spiritual formation wonder Apr 05, 2024

Many of you know Robbie Pinter, but it’s likely that few at Wisdom Tree Collective know the extent of her service and experience.

Recently retired after teaching English at Belmont University for forty years, Robbie has certainly a earned  few years on the porch, admiring her hydrangeas and reading mystery novels. But that’s not her style.  A graduate of Shalem Institute, she’s been growing her spiritual direction practice over the past 15 years.  She’s active on the Board at St. Mary’s Sewanee and she has been the point person for Contemplative Outreach of Middle Tennessee for many years. And now, Robbie serves Wisdom Tree Collective as a Mentor in the SD program, the Group Supervision facilitator, and a presenter.

Robbie’s forty years as an English professor at Belmont read like a spiritual director’s dream.  She designed and taught juicy courses like Spirituality and Writing, journaling with and beyond the Ira Progoff program, the literature of dreams, and travel-based classes in which students explored native American spirituality. She also loved teaching peer tutoring: to her, it’s a little like “listening a person into existence” as Howard Thurman would say. She adds, “There’s so much crossover between my teaching career and spiritual direction.”

When asked about the spiritual practices important to her, Robbie states that the grounding of her work and her practice is centering prayer. “I’m not always good at it,” she says,” but I keep showing up. Centering prayer is a way to be present in more depth with what spirituality is all about, it’s a way to sense where I’m being drawn, and it helps me to let go, into the Holy.” Widely read in spirituality and mysticism, she especially appreciates the work of Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich. Robbie was a Southern Baptist for years, but she converted to Catholicism about 25 years ago. Not only was she drawn by her husband’s Catholic faith, but she was especially moved by the Virgin Mary, whose influence on Robbie’s own motherhood has been profound. You can read Robbie’s story of open adoption in her book, For This Child I Prayed.

Robbie tells a story about a moment that still resonates for her. She was only 3 or 4 years old, standing in a grassy yard, and as the wind blew about, she felt that it blew through her, she was part of the wind. She calls it a unitive experience. “It was just a glimpse,” she says. “Just a moment of something real, beyond the veil. But it was so powerful, and it’s stayed with me all my life. I’m still not over it.”

“Not being over it” means Robbie is still listening, responding, and teaching. Her current supervision group is full (of enthusiastic participants!) but if you’d like to help her start a new one, contact her at [email protected]. And if you are up for more, Robbie and WTC’s Amy-Lyles Wilson will be leading a 3-day retreat on “Tending our Souls: a Writing Retreat for Women” at St. Mary’s Sewanee this summer.

A Nashville resident, Robbie likes to come to in-person Wisdom Tree Collective events. We hope you will take the opportunity to meet her soon.

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