It was Spring 2018 when Kasey introduced herself to Kim & Mary Francis, in the entryway of a church in Middle Tennessee. They remarked how the pastor had told them earlier that they had to meet Kasey because they shared a mutual interest in the contemplative.
Kasey had been a spiritual director for 15 years and Mary Francis, an Episcopalian, mentioned how they had ventured into this UMC after seeing spiritual directors on the church’s website. Kim shared how he had gone through The Living School’s program and been impacted by the writings of and interactions with Richard Rohr and those at the Center for Action and Contemplation. A spiritual direction colleague, Scott Spradley, happened to be offering a class on Rohr’s Breathing Underwater, that very night at the church!
Conversation around a barbecue grill in August 2018, about building a retreat center led to a discerning retreat in July of 2019, which put on hold building a retreat center. Many hours of praying, dreaming, dining, and laughing followed, with three to ten gathered together each month. This led to offering their first retreat in February 2020.
A Contemplative Approach to Spirituality and Sexuality, was held in the home of Kim and Mary Francis. People stayed in nearby hotels or commuted. All were amazed—the many ways God brought healing and deep awareness in such a short amount of time left them speechless. The way was opening.
Kim and Mary Francis established The Hummingbird Foundation to provide initial funding to the future contemplative nonprofit. The name spoke of God affirming their love for each other through seeing hummingbirds everywhere—from the birds themselves to images of the birds wherever they looked. Later on, Kasey discovered the indigenous story of the Quechuan people of South America, The Little Hummingbird. The message of the little hummingbird was at the very heart of The Hummingbird Foundation and the future nonprofit.
When plans for more in-person retreats stalled due to the pandemic, the relationships continued to be cultivated with old dreams being surrendered. Not long after, a new dream and a new name was born—Wisdom Tree Collective. To learn more about our appreciation for trees, see Planting Trees.
With retreats on hold, Kasey began to form a curriculum for a Wisdom-based School of Spiritual Direction. Interest from her online classes and retreats through the pandemic encouraged her to offer a virtual training program which definitely excited those who wanted to be trained by her but lived several states away!
With very little advertising, the first cohort filled and even had to be expanded. In September 2021, they begin their 2-year training through Wisdom Tree Collective’s School of Spiritual Direction.
All continue to say “yes” to this holy Wave of Love, that has swept them up and continues to take them in directions they never dreamed of going. And all know that while it began with a small group of people open to the collective Wisdom in, through, and all around them, they look forward to an ever-growing collective of people with roots running both deep and wide.
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