The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an Episcopal parish in the Diocese of Pennsylvania that is centered on the worship of God, the ministry of all baptized persons, and the call to be agents of Christ’s love in the world.
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Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
8000 St. Martin’s Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19118

The Rev. W. Jarrett Kerbel

St. Martin's Cloak

The Cloak is a collection of audio vignettes—stories that reveal parishioners’ faith journeys. Share your thoughts by sending us an e-mail.

I have these amazing, deep spiritual experiences myself—sometimes when I’m alone and preparing.

Barbara Baumgartner

Barbara Baumgartner’s passion for story telling and training in the technique called “Godly Play” make her a vibrant and insightful teacher for St. Martin’s youngest church school attendees. Here she describes how preparation for teaching has nurtured her own spiritual growth.

I actually think that why I do what I do is the spiritual journey it is for me to prepare the story and then to present it. Really! I’ve been thinking about that a lot because I find, noticing myself in a variety of situations where we’re doing Biblical studies, I find myself at the best advantage to explore the story and get something from it where I am just working on one single story and thinking about the characters. And that could be in discussion with adults, but also when you are preparing for children you think about the aspects of the stories.

A couple of my favorite stories … one might be “On The Road to Emmaus.” And of course I’ve heard that story over the years and the first time I had like an “aha” experience with it I was at a workshop for Godly Play teachers. This would have been the spring of 1997. I had only been teaching for a few months and that year there were workshops that I went to maybe once every two months. And one of the people who was more experienced said, she said, “Jerome Berryman hasn’t written a Godly Play script for ‘On the Road to Emmaus.’ But,” she said, “I have seen him tell the story so I am going to demonstrate it.” And she had a brown felt-tan felt underlay and a brown sort of curvy underlay for a road. And she had three wooden figures. Cleopas and his companion and then the third figure is Jesus. And they are walking down the road talking, and just, again, acting the story out in a vividness that was just amazing for me.

Now since then I have done other things with that story. One time I was on retreat at the Jesuit Center for Spirituality in Wernersville. And my spiritual director suggested that I do a meditation on that story. So I spent more time with the story and she said, “Imagine you’re the person walking with Cleopas along the road.” And so that was very vivid because I just did this like imagery thinking about, you know, walking and hearing this sort of shadowy figure and what he was saying, and then when he gets to break the bread and I’m looking at him and I go – ooh, that’s Jesus, ooh! And then he disappeared! Just like it almost really happened to me in that meditation.

So, now I’ve told that story in workshops and with the children and so on. But the reason I do it is because I have these amazing, deep spiritual experiences myself—sometimes when I’m alone and preparing or sometimes when I’m in a workshop, or whatever.

So again I do it because it just … it’s a spiritual experience to study the stories and think about how I am going to present them and what they mean.