Stephen Wright - A hand-break turn

31m | Apr 18, 2024

David's Guest today is Rev. Prof. Stephen G Wright FRCN MBE. In his own words, "starting out with the curse-blessing of the original dysfunctional family, Stephen emerged from his Manchester working class background to grow his hair long and wander around Europe like a lot of his generation did in the 60s. He drifted into nursing, and by conventional measures made a success of it, following the first Masters programme at Manchester University and eventually becoming the first consultant nurse in the NHS in 1986.  He got into conference speaking and course-leading internationally, shuffled around in academia, made TV programmes, wrote lots of books and research papers about nursing, advised governments and WHO and the Royal College of Nursing, and matured his craft in the nursing practice of older people culminating in leading a radical nursing development unit that influenced nursing far and wide. He gathered lots of glittering prizes along the way to add letters before and after his name, which appealed greatly to the Enneatype 3 personality he carries around with him. Thus all the usual trappings of an acclaimed career were in place.

A hand-break turn in self-perception and a reawakening of the mysticism long suppressed since childhood took him in a different direction in the 90’s – exploring spirituality as it related to himself, health care and as service to others. He trained with some eminent teachers, including at the Interfaith Seminary, and was mentored most deeply by Ram Dass and Jean Sayre-Adams. He is a member of the Iona Community, finds a kinship in the deep silent worship of Quaker meetings and is just about hanging on, like many others, to his bit part in the Anglican tradition.

His latest work published by Wild Goose focuses on the life of Kentigern/Mungo and offers a pilgrimage route around the Northern Fells of Cumbria. Other books have explored spirituality and health, pilgrimage, poetry and the quartet of spiritual guidance, Coming Home, Contemplation, Burnout and, more recently, Heartfullness. His latest work, recently published is Fugue. It is an exploration of the connection between the spiritual life and the polycrisis. He’s a Fellow and visiting professor at the University of Cumbria which offers a degree of input still to the academic world, as well as conferring some vague respectability to his work. He lives with his partner in the English Lake District, enjoys grandfatherhood, beekeeping and his organic garden and at 74 still finds working as a trustee and spiritual director for the Sacred Space Foundation a joy.

Imaginal Inspirations is hosted by David Lorimer, Programme Director of the Scientific and Medical Network and Chair of the Galileo Commission, an academic movement dedicated to expanding the evidence base of a science of consciousness. Imaginal cells are responsible for the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly, which is the Greek symbol for the soul. These cells are dormant in the caterpillar but at a critical point of development they create the new form and structure which becomes the butterfly.


Works and links mentioned:

The Sacred Space Foundation

Books by Stephen:

Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

Books by Ram Dass


Production: Martin Redfern

Artwork: Amber Haas

Music: Life is a River, by Magnus Moone

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Imaginal Inspirations