Be Bob

One of the important elders in my life is Bob Stilger. Bob and I met in the mid 1990s. Bob was joining some of the work that we were doing at Berkana — that meant lots of dialogue and change work. That meant lots of community engagement work.

Bob didn’t present himself as “elder” to me. It wasn’t a naming. That wasn’t his style. But it was clear in how Bob acted with me that he brought eldering energy. It was in his listening — Bob had / has a way of knowing the importance of slowing down. It was in his sharing — Bob had / has a way of connecting his life experience to what I was experiencing. It was in his inviting — Bob had / has a way of illuminating choices rooted in the deeper why of things.

Bob and I had a recent Zoom call together, just out of desire to “catch up” with one another. We reflected. We shared updates. We told stories. We laughed. We sorrowed together.

In that call, I reminded Bob of what I received as perhaps his most eldered guidance. And thanked him for it again. I recalled with Bob — as we laughed and smiled — many dialogues with many groups of people that we participated in together on four continents. Bob in his deeply reflective and honest ways repeated his clarity with those groups — “…though there is a lot going on and there are many things that I wish I could do, my job is to Be Bob.” It was such simple, authentic presence that helped me then and now to Be Tenneson. It was keen guidance from his being.

So, I honor Bob today. Grateful for his presence, and grateful for our renewed connection from a Zoom call last week. Grateful for the ways that this elder gifted with soft yet clear touch. Grateful for the lasting mark of being and more fully inhabiting self.

A bow. And a moved heart. And thank you Bob, dear person and guide that you are.

3 Replies to “Be Bob”

  1. Thank you so much for this kind witnessing my friend. Life brings us companions. Those we walk with as we find pathways into the unknown. You have been such a companion for me. I always remember that “Be Bob” moment. It was a turning point for me. We were in the Berry Hall at the Whidbey Institute with a group of kindred called together mostly by Meg Wheatley. We understood during our time together that we were a midwives council to bring what would become “From the Four Directions” into the world

    I was in my early 50s. In our closing circle, what I realized was that my real work — and it has become my life work — was simply to be Bob. Showing up with grace and wounds, stories and possibilities, listening and bad puns and all.

    So pleased that the spirit of life brought us together, dear Tenneson!

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