What is the Wisdom School?

All people hunger for spiritual meaning in their lives, whether they affiliate religiously or not. The Wisdom School at Saint Mark’s, now entering its fourth year, was created with a broad vision to invite people on diverse spiritual journeys to listen to and learn from each other in a vital practice of collaborative engagement.

Our mission is to “[Offer] a balanced path for spiritual transformation grounded in prayer and practice, drawing on the Christian contemplative tradition while respecting the diversity of experiences born from contemplative practices of other traditions.” The space for reasoned discourse, lifelong learning, and spiritual renewal is held sacred for all seekers, whether they worship at the cathedral or not.

Each year’s programming includes free offerings and a few that require a registration fee. The Wisdom School has hosted Walter Brueggemann, Mirabai Starr, Ed Bacon, Gertrud Muller Nelson, and others who bring their acclaimed gifts to share with participants, as well as being a host site for CONSIPRE webcasts, which feature teachers like Richard Rohr, Barbara Brown Taylor, angel Kyodo williams, Ken Wilber, and Barbara Holmes.

With the uncertainties of this pandemic era, we have built in contingencies to our planning. Some offerings may translate well to a virtual setting; others will be rescheduled or cancelled if necessary. Please be sure to check closer to the date of each event to confirm.



Theme for the Year: A Spirituality of Desire

Traditionally desire is understood as existing in the realm of carnal experience, and is therefore to be denied or rejected. But mystics know a deeper truth—that desire is at the core of our spiritual awareness and informs all that we do and are, in response to God’s desire for us, or alternatively, as a shadow that hinders that union through false attachments.

You may download the complete 2021 season brochure here.

RESCHEDULED: Women’s Retreat—Desire and Holy Longing

NEW DATES: OCTOBER 22–24, 2021, at Camp Casey on Whidbey Island.

Facilitated by Canons Daugherty & Ross

What is God’s desire for you and how might you live more fully into God’s holy longing for you? Spend a weekend away with Saint Mark’s clergy women to connect with each other and listen for the movement of the Spirit in our lives. Time will be set aside for prayer, reflection, creative expression, worship and enjoying each other’s company.

Fee: $250; includes two nights lodging (single rooms) and all meals. Partial scholarships available. Space is limited; priority given to those who participate in The Wisdom School.

More information will be posted here as the event approaches. To register, contact The Rev. Canon Nancy Ross, nross@saintmarks.org.

POSTPONED: A Spirituality of Desire

Wednesday, January 13, 2021, 6:45 p.m.–8:15 p.m., Bloedel Hall(provisionally) and via Zoom,
Facilitated by Dean Steve Thomason

UPDATE: This event will be rescheduled. 

Drawing on art, poetry, science and theology, including writings of the mystics, we explore desire as a deeply-seated (and perhaps divinely hard-wired) spiritual gift that enables us to engage the Other in life-giving union while also reflecting on ways we fall prey to false attachments meant to fill the spiritual whole that only God can fill.

No fee, pre-registration required for Zoom link.

POSTPONED: Ravished by Nature’s Beauty: Christian Mystics and the Longing for God

Friday, January 22, 2021, 6:30–8:30 p.m. & Saturday, January 23, 2021, 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
A two-part workshop led by Belden C. Lane

UPDATE: This presentation has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for the 2021–22 program year.

Christian mysticism can be deeply earthy and sensual in its yearning for union with the Divine. Hildegard of Bingen and Teresa of Avila found a wondrous God in trees and flowing water. Catherine of Siena and Ignatius Loyola were drawn by the brightness of fire and the darkness of the cave. These mystics call us back to a “Great Conversation” with the natural world, reconnecting our spiritual lives with the earth. Renowned theologian and best-selling author Belden Lane will guide this wholesome exploration through images, storytelling, poetry and guided meditation.

Advance registration required. Fee: $60, includes resources, snacks and Saturday lunch.

POSTPONED: Spirituality of the Meal

A Saturday gathering, March 20, 2021

UPDATE: This event will be rescheduled.

Facilitated by Chef Marc Aubertin & Dean Steve Thomason

Food is a profound portal into spiritual growth even as it often carries trappings of stress and shame for many. It doesn’t have to. Sharing a meal is a holy experience, if we avail ourselves to the opportunity to practice presence and see the bounty before us as opportunity to practice gratitude. Brief reflections across the day will include history of the meal and reflecting on food as spiritual metaphor. Participants will engage in sensate tasting, and will share a meal prepared by all present.

Advance registration required. Fee $25, includes resources and food.

POSTPONED: Two Events with Hillary McBride, PhD

UPDATE: These events will be rescheduled.

Saint Mark’s Cathedral is delighted to host best-selling author and The Liturgists podcaster Hillary McBride for two events in the spring of 2021. A renowned therapist and researcher with a PhD in Counseling Psychology, she has a gift for walking alongside people as they grow, heal and change, and exploring with honesty and compassion difficult seasons in life and transitions in our beliefs. The Liturgists podcasters share a desire to create spaces for those recovering from spiritual trauma while also lifting up historically marginalized people. Watch Dr. McBride’s TheoEd talk at: https://theoed.com/hillary-mcbride.


This Is My Body

Friday, April 30, 2021, 6:30–8 p.m.

Public reading and signing in the cathedral nave of her new book This is My Body: Practices for Coming Home to Yourself and Living Fully Alive

Open to the public. No fee; freewill donations accepted.


Body and Spirit: Why We Are Both and Why Both Matter

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.

Many of us have, unknowingly, been sold the story that our minds are superior to our bodies, and that our bodies are barriers to “pure” or “true” spirituality. Together, we will examine how these ideas continue to keep us from wholeness. We’ll explore practices that help us repair the fragmentations we carry inside of us, so that we can truly remember our bodily selves.

Fee: $60. Space is limited and advance registration is required.

CANCELLED: Men’s Retreat—“Our Shelter from the Stormy Blast”: Spiritual Reflections on 9/11, Pandemic, and Change

JUNE 11–13, 2021, at St. Andrew’s House Retreat Center on beautiful Hood Canal

Facilitated by The Rev. Dr. Stuart Hoke & Dean Steve Thomason

The world has changed… again. As a priest on staff at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, The Rev. Dr. Stuart Hoke happened to be standing under the North Tower of the World Trade Center when it was attacked on September 11, 2001. For his talks at our retreat, he will reflect on that experience, as well as the many spiritual awakenings that emerged from the ashes—learnings that touch all of us as we navigate life in the 21st century, especially in the wake of a global pandemic.

Fee: $250; includes two nights lodging (single rooms) and all meals. Partial scholarships are available. Space is limited; priority given to those who participate in The Wisdom School. A non-refundable deposit is required to hold your space.

POSTPONED: Capstone—Following in Celtic Footsteps: A Pilgrimage to Iona and Ancient Missions of Britain

UPDATE: The Summer 2021 pilgrimage has been cancelled. It will be rescheduled for the summer of 2022. Please check back later for new dates.
Led by The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason

The shape of this 11-day trip is contemplative and communal, drawing on the ancient wisdom of Celtic spirituality and the monastic rhythms of worship, prayer and life in community, while also breathing in the serene beauty of the landscape. We will begin the journey with Durham as our base, moving about ancient missions in Northumbria, with lodging just down from magnificent Durham Cathedral, containing Cuthbert’s shrine and Bede’s tomb. We will make our way to Glasgow, then on to the island of Iona, known as a “thin place” of holy presence. Inspiration along our journey will draw on the lives of early saints like Columba, Aidan and Bede as well as writings by modern spiritualists like John Phillip Newell and Esther de Waal. There will be two pre-pilgrimage gatherings for those who make the trip.

Space is limited. A deposit will be required to hold your place. For more information, including itinerary and total cost when finalized, visit saintmark.org/iona.

CONSPIRE 2021: The final in a seven-year series

September 24–26, 2021
A livestreamed conference

Join Richard Rohr and friends in this capstone experience building on Richard Rohr’s alternative orthodoxy to create a gateway into practical and authentic contemplation—a way of life rooted in radical openness to God’s loving presence. Saint Mark’s Cathedral serves as a host site for the virtual conference. Learn more at the website of the Center for Contemplation and Action.

Advance registration required. Fee: $20, includes refreshments across the three-day conference.

Click on the cover image to download the complete 2021 season brochure as a pdf.
PLEASE NOTE: Many of the events listed in the brochure have now been postponed. Check back on this page for the most up-to-date details. 

Mirabai Starr returns to Saint Mark's

Mirabai Starr's virtual presentation for Saint Mark's titled Luminous Night: A Spirituality of Loss, Grief, and Hope was offered on December 5, 2020, 9:30–11:30 a.m. While this event was not officially part of the Wisdom School programming, her previous appearances at Saint Mark's have been, and many Wisdom School participants were among the over 200 people who attended. Thanks to all who made this offering so meaningful!


In this pandemic era, how or if we offer these annual events may need to change in real time.
Please check back to confirm closer to the dates.

Lenten Quiet Morning
at Saint Mark’s Cathedral

Advent Quiet Morning
at St. Andrew's, Green Lake

These events will not be offered in the 20/21 liturgical year. The Advent event may occur in December of 2021—stay tuned!

These two special Quiet Mornings help us move deeply into the sacred seasons with morning prayer, centering prayer, walking meditation, and unstructured time for reflection held in shared silence. Freewill donations gratefully accepted ($10–15 suggested). Reservations are appreciated; RSVP to The Rev. Nancy Ross, nross@saintmarks.org.


New Year’s Eve Labyrinth Walk

This event was not offered on December 31, 2021, although the outdoor labyrinth remained open and available around the clock as usual. We hope that this offering will return as we welcome 2022.

By candlelight and contemplative music, come mark the turn into a new year by engaging in this deep spiritual practice. With pews removed, the labyrinth is laid down in the center of this sacred cathedral, allowing people to “circle to the center” as a practice designed to illuminate the inner path of wisdom. At midnight, Holy Eucharist is celebrated at the center of the labyrinth. All are welcome. (Suggested donation: $5 per person; $15 for families.)



Cathedral Yoga

NEW! First Monday of the Month, 5:30–6:30 p.m., via livestream from the cathedral nave

A bodily and spiritual practice led by experienced teachers and open to all. Pay what you can.

After over seven years as a weekly Sunday evening offering, and a 12-month pandemic hiatus, Cathedral Yoga relaunched as a monthly online offering on March 1, 2021. The in-person offering will resume when the situation allows.

Contemplative Eucharist

Sundays, 7 p.m., Thomsen Chapel

A candlelit Eucharist with, simple meditative music and periods of silence. Anointing and healing blessings are offered after the service.

Offering suspended in March 2020. It will resume when possible.


Sundays, 9:30 p.m., Cathedral Nave

A beloved Seattle tradition since 1956, the Compline Choir leads this meditative choral service of nighttime prayers.

Service will remain closed to the public until Phase 4, but live broadcasts continue uninterrupted each week on king 98.1 fm, or streaming at king.org, and as a podcast. Video of the service is livestreamed as of March 7, 2021.

Centering Prayer

Mondays, 7:15 p.m., Thomsen Chapel

Through silence, meditation, and readings, we open our minds and hearts—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, reaching beyond thoughts, words, and emotions, that we might experience God’s presence within us.

Offering was suspended in the pandemic, and will resume when possible. 

Evening Prayer

Monday–Friday, 6:30 p.m., Thomsen Chapel

Every weekday, lay readers offer a spoken service of daily prayer following the form of the Book of Common Prayer 1979.

Offering will continue via Zoom video-conferencing until further notice. Find out how to participate here



The Art of Forgiveness

Wednesdays, September 11, 18, and 25, 2019, 6:45–8:15 p.m., Bloedel Hall
Facilitated by Dean Thomason
We all know what it is to be betrayed in life, and to face the deep pain and mistrust that follow, often distorting the shape of our lives forever. Forgiveness is not forgetting or pretending the betrayal did not happen. Why is forgiving so difficult...and reconciliation often even harder? Why does Jesus call us to forgive, and how can it be life-giving? In this series, we will explore forgiveness as a spiritual practice guided by the Wisdom literature of our Judeo-Christian tradition and other religions, while also exploring the works of modern theologians and psychologists as we seek to engage in this work and its healing balm in our lives.

Program is free with no registration required; optional community dinner at 6 p.m., $7.

The Enneagram Instinctual Subtypes that Fuel Our Behavior

Friday, January 10, 2020, 6:30–8:30 p.m.; and Saturday, January 11, 2020, 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m., Bloedel Hall
Facilitated by Sarah Walston, MA, M.Ed., LMHC, Certified Enneagram InstructorLearning your Enneagram instinctual subtype can be a powerful tool in illuminating why you do what you do, helping us unfold into the spiritual journey. In spiritual teachings, our body’s instincts are often seen as obstacles or corrupting influences that get in the way of God’s will. It doesn’t have to be that way. Participants will explore the three deep instinctual drives that fuel behavior; which one animates you most profoundly; and how this combines with your Enneagram point of view to create a distinct orientation. This work is particularly useful in learning to bridge persistent difficulties in relationships.
Fee $60. Pre-registration required.