Franklin Adkinson established group spiritual direction programs at the Well after participating in and then facilitating group spiritual direction at the Shalem Institute for 10 years. He also leads Cosmos, Creator, Connectedness: Science Meets Spirit, based on Judy Cannato’s Radical Amazement. Franklin is a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
How/when did you become involved with Well for the Journey?
I was looking for a venue in Baltimore to offer Group Spiritual Direction(GSD), at a time when the Well was in its 2nd or 3rd year under the leadership of Mabeth Hudson. After some discussions with the Board and discernment on both sides, we agreed that GSD was the type of small group spiritual experience which fit the Well’s mission. I’ve facilitated one or two groups each year since then, and at least two from my groups are now also facilitating GSD at the Well. The Well continues to be wonderfully supportive of this contemplative spiritual discipline.
What do you wish more people knew about the Well?
The Well is essentially a community of seekers, not just a place to find small group programs. The overlap enrollment among programs is broad so there is the opportunity over time to develop spiritual friendships and support among a group of individuals who want to focus on “what is important” in their lives, and the life of the world. This can become the transformative experience I believe we all seek. And the Well welcomes all who thirst for spiritual satisfaction regardless of religious background or beliefs. “Not knowing” is considered liberating here rather than shameful.
What’s a great event for newcomers to check out?
For a single session, the “mystics” series allows a newcomer to enjoy a poetic reading of a bit of the spiritual insights of one of the world’s wisdom sources, along with personal reflection and prayerful discussions which are characteristic of the Well. I am told that the “Women at the Well” series is a mind and heart opener. And for a deeper introduction, one of the Well’s day or weekend retreats allows time away from “busi-ness” which is always a fruitful investment. (For program and registration info, visit the Well’s events calendar.)
How did you become interested in cosmology and the idea of harmonizing science and faith?
As a medical scientist this has always been on my radar screen. But only after I had read Judy Cannato’s two remarkable books did I come to realize “integration” rather than harmony is the goal, and not only possible, but essential to a true spiritual understanding. Our vision of God and purpose for the Cosmos (and our lives in it) must begin with the modern story of the universe and come to grips with the glory of the evolution, not only of life itself, but of the unfolding Cosmos. I felt I had to share Cannato’s gifts with others and try together to understand her message and where it leads us. That’s the origin of five groups the Well has assembled to address these issues.
What are your favorite hobbies/leisure activities?
I enjoy walking in natural habitats on weekend retreats away, or around local parks and streams. This as much as anything seems to refresh my body, mind and soul. Travel to new places around the world has always given me insight and wonderful memories. Recently my wife and I have been enjoying trips with our grandchildren as they become teenagers.
What Well events are you looking forward to attending or facilitating this year?
Together with Mabeth Hudson, Greg Cochran, and others, I am looking forward to offering a new experience for “elders” (those over 50!) called Conscious Aging. In eight two-hour sessions we will offer a self-reflective and interactive program to invite shifts in consciousness toward wholeness, connection, and compassion as we grow older and embrace our own wisdom and that of others. (Note: The Well will offer Introduction to Conscious Aging as a single session in July. The eight-session program begins this fall.)
Personally, my wife and I are looking forward to attending the Well’s weekend Mindfulness Retreat at the Claggett Center this spring.