CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL is a group of people sharing the journey of awakening and transformation that we believe is the foundation of wisdom. Together, all of us are committed to learning from and with each other. We are not, therefore, a community where a few who think themselves wise teach those who come to sit at their feet. We are a community of co-learners.
This page identifies and introduces those who hold leadership roles in our community and carry the overall responsibility for the architecture and culture of the program. We are the ones who will be journeying with you as mentors and teachers – something that we count to be an extremely precious privilege.
Dr. David G. Benner is the Founding Director and Senior Mentor/Teacher of CASCADIA LIVING WISDOM SCHOOL. He provides the primary mentor presence in the online interaction and videoconferences. Dr. Benner is an internationally known depth psychologist, author, and wisdom teacher whose life’s work has been directed toward facilitating not merely healing or even growth but the unfolding of the self associated with a journey of awakening and transformation. He has authored or edited more than 30 books that have been translated into 23 foreign languages and sold over 500,000 copies. He has held faculty appointments at numerous universities, colleges and seminaries in North America; served as Chief or Senior Psychologist in a number of clinics and hospitals in Canada and USA, and as Consulting Psychologist throughout South America, South East Asia, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, and Southern Africa; and has lectured and led workshops and retreats in more than 30 countries around the world. Beyond his work in psychology, spirituality and wisdom teaching his other principal interests are walking, sailing, cycling, standup paddleboarding, jazz, good food and soulful conversation. For more about Dr. Benner, see Professional Bio, My Journey, and My Family.
Juliet Benner has worked in a variety of different roles, including high school teacher, church organist, liturgical artist, calligrapher, art gallery docent, and spiritual director. Her longstanding interest in art, theology and spirituality are the organizing threads of all that she has done. These come together in her special interest in the use of art as a resource in contemplation, and contemplation as a way to shift one’s center of gravity from head to heart – these things being at the core of the writing, retreat work and spiritual direction she has provided over the past three decades. Juliet is much in demand as a speaker and retreat leader, her work in recent years taking her across Canada and the United States as well as to Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Her first book, Contemplative Vision: A Guide to Christian Art and Prayer, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2010. Beyond her interests in art and contemplative spirituality, Juliet is also passionate about cryptic crosswords, hiking, music, reading, and live theatre.
Fr. Martin Brokenleg is a retired priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, founder of the Anglican Canon Communities of St. Benedict, and prior of the Benedictine Community of St. Aidan in Victoria, BC. He is also an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who practices the culture of his Lakota people. Fr. Martin holds a doctorate in psychology, is a graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was for many years the Director of the Native Ministries Program and Professor of First Nations Ministry and Theology at Vancouver School of Theology, and Professor of Native American studies at Augustana University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Fr. Martin is co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk, and was the co-developer of the Circle of Courage model for working with youth at risk. He continues to provide worldwide training on behalf of Reclaiming Youth International and in recent years has consulted and led training programs throughout North America, New Zealand, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Find more about him at www.martinbrokenleg.com.
Jeanne Chua is a trained spiritual director and retreat facilitator and a highly respected and much sought after mentor. She studied psychology at the University of Michigan and received extensive training in spiritual direction from the Benedictines and Jesuits in Santa Barbara (California), Pecos (New Mexico) and Guelph (Canada). She has a longstanding interest in the mystics, particularly the transformational dimensions of the inner journey. Jeanne is a wife, mother and grandmother to two children. She and her husband divide their time between Manila, Toronto, and Greenwich, CT.
Br. Gene Sedererstrom, OSBCn, a vowed canon of the Anglican Benedictine order of The Community of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, Victoria, BC, holds undergraduate degrees in history and education, a master’s degree in library science, and diploma certification in both massage therapy and design. Diversity of experience in these disparate fields has helped to shape Br. Gene’s inspiration as a spiritual mentor. Appreciating the importance of mind-body-spirit integration and holistic well being, he incorporates his understandings of western and eastern healing and wholeness into his mentoring practice and personal spiritual life. Certification in design informs his spirituality of aesthetics and beauty to create environments of peace and harmony. With ancestral roots in Ireland and Scotland, Br. Gene has been drawn to Celtic mysticism and Celtic forms of prayer. Benedictinism, the oldest and most common way of living out the Christian faith, animates his current – yet always evolving – spiritual life. Steeped in Celtic and Benedictine prayer practices, his vision of life affirms that “there is no place where God is not” and every moment is woven into an infinitely beautiful design.
Born and raised in South Africa where she worked as a clinical social worker and then as a psychologist for 23 years, Brenda holds advanced degrees in both fields from University of South Africa and the University of Natal (Durban). She furthered her clinical training by subsequently completing an MA in clinical psychology from Wheaton College (Illinois), 1 year of doctoral studies at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and participation in a number of week-long intensives in Jungian psychology and dream work in Switzerland and South Africa. She is also a graduate of the Haden Institute for Spiritual Direction in the Jungian and Mystical Christian Tradition, and completed 5 years of study toward a Ph.D. in Psychology at North Central University (Flagstaff, AZ). Brenda currently serves as a professor of psychology at Redeemer University College (Hamilton, Ontario). She is also a spiritual director and clinical practitioner of Jungian Psychology. She is particularly interested in the way people find meaning in their lives, and in the Jungian notion of creative suffering – not the madness of artists but the way in which a breakdown can form a container for transformation and the discovery of one’s most authentic self. Listen to her discussing these concepts in an audio interview that can be found at https://archive.org/details/BrendaStephensonPsychologistArtWaves17.
Donald Woodside is a retired child psychiatrist. He is a husband, father, and grandfather engaged in lots of childcare. His practice of meditation began in India in 1968, and has continued to this day, involving studies in several different traditions. He has taught mindfulness meditation to individuals and groups, and has provided meditation instruction to a cancer resource centre for many years. He trained in spiritual direction at the Haden Institute and has a practice in spiritual guidance. He has been an active member of the Quaker Meeting in Hamilton, Ontario since 1980, and through that connection took on a leadership role in conscientious objection to military taxation. Meditation and community activism have been guiding threads in his life – as well as ballroom dancing and bird watching!