Removing the Illusion of Separateness

This would be another one of those topics about “what is really going on when people come together in conversation and learn well.” It is some of my imagining about the energetics that I have less language for, yet feels very important to name. For the many of us pioneering or re-pioneering the art of meaningful conversation and connnection as a way to do the work needed in the world today, it gives us further ability to connect and be helpful.

With thanks to mate, Toke Moeller for asking the question: What if hosting conversations that matter is the kind of leadership that allows everybody to learn? And to Bob Stilger and Lauri Prest who helped me churn a bit further with this, a few key points…

  • Conversation gives us doorway to learning and access to a shared resonance.
    From there, it is on. Big imagination and aliveness in purpose weaves to practical first next steps. In vision and in projects.
  • This is what I’m seeing activated – spreading like wildfire. In faith community. In family wellness in Illinois. In wellness in Ontario and across Canada. In labour education. It is what I am hearing and imagining with European Commission and the work that Toke and other hosting mates are in.
  • People reawaken. I reawaken. We can’t seem to help ourselves but reawaken. And when the smallest of that happens together, the world begins to feel deeply inviting.
  • Though I have less language for it, it is the energy center that pops with our conversations. I think we remove the illusion of our separateness and reclaim our wholeness / oneness.
  • Yup, from there it is on. How gorgeous to experience this in systems of governance, health care, etc. And maybe for the last 200,000 years or whatever period of adaptiveness.

Perhaps it is our nature to know wholeness. Perhaps this is what we know is possible in community. Perhaps this is what we yearn for, and when we taste it, we actually become different. Different in presence. In possibility. In capacity to work together and offer gifts to these times. Perhaps we are further learning to drop the mask and illusion of separateness.

The Power of Conversation

The closing cafe hosted at Ontario Art of Hosting was around this question: What do you know now about the power of conversation? It was asked of the group, held for three rounds.

The tone of the harvest question was: What are you going to tell Joe or Joeanne about it? Our intention was to surface some of the language in participants as they return to their respective work settings. It was clear to me that though many of these words aren’t new, the conviction with which they were spoken was strong. It came from the experience of being in community, which always changes everything.

Below are a few of the postit responses shared by participants and harvested by Christian Lord.

– Listening
– Expectation vs What is

– Notice what different cultures need in order to have a conversation
– Notice what is nourished by questions from the heart. Notice where your questions come from.

– What could possibly happen through conversation?
– Learning how to have meaningful conversations to make the world a better place – speaking from the heart and inviting curiosity.

– We could use the metaphor of planning & preparing a banquet together
* Brings together our individual talents, traditions & richness
* Creating a juicy whole
* Nourishing us at all levels & bringing great joy to all
– It is about weaving a beautiful tapestry from the disparate strands, bringing together many colors, patterns and textures, making us stronger and more vibrant than our individual threads.

– What you know in your Heart matters to the whole
– Respect and gently hold the flow

– How do we call the questions (warrior) that need to be called and how do we create the safe place or sanctuary (mid-wife) to be in the conversations (emergence)?

– Kesher – Dineamaagawik – Appartenance – Enfoldment – Respect
– Fertile question & Appropriate vessel

– Have you ever thought that there is another way to work/live/be which is possible?
– Conversare – “to turn to one another” — relating

Pembroke Art of Hosting Endorsements

Gilles Asselin
Consultant, SoCoCo Intercultural
New Jersey

It was a pleasure exploring some truly wicked questions with you in the past few days. I can sense a subtle change in me. Some of what I call my “judgment barrier” has evaporated, leaving more space for deep conversations. What a blessing this process is! Not to mention the loving folks in the process.

“In a time of uncertainty (which is ALL the time), we must have the courage to suspend our beliefs and conditioning and ask fresh, new questions. Truly inspired answers emerge only from asking honest, probing questions and releasing what we know deep inside. In this process, intercultural dialogue is essential. It has the power to bring creative solutions to our troubled world and healing for humanity.”
Lubosh Cech, Artist

Corrina Chetley-Irwin

I am totally in awe of what your guys do and your approaches. I particularly appreciated your openness (the collective your) to sharing your materials, resources, experiences and the fact that there were absolutely no egos in the room. It was an amazing experience as a participant but also as an observer of the process.

Kathleen Connelly
Consultant, Groupe Intersol Group
Ontario, Canada

I will use a quote I love (and is on my fridge) to tell people what the Art of Hosting was and is for me….

Spending 4 days learning about the Art of Hosting, and spending those days with the wonderful people who were compelled to be there and be present was in my view, doing exactly what Howard Thurman (US author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader) was talking about when he said:

Don`t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

I believe the Art of Hosting helps people connect with what makes them come alive. It`s what the world needs!

Adria Goodson
Hunt Alternatives Fund

I am in awe of the universe. What a lovely, lightning bolt kind of week and, in particular, a joy to be in your presence! Thank you for sharing your gifts and holding space for me to share mine more fully.

Joan Huling
Community Liason Coordinator, Hokonui PHO
New Zealand

Personal learning, I realised that I have been living and working in isolation for too long. I no longer want to work this way. The power of the group, with difficulties and all, is mighty.

I experinced the 5 breaths of design in my body, especailly the groan zone. During one conversation I went through the groan zone twice. In the past I would have gotten up from my chair and left but because I recognised that I was in the zone and I knew there was something coming behind it I stayed. That was very powerful for me.

I gained confidence and belief in my wisdom, again with help from the collective.

Professional learning: I will share the models that we practiced. The 5 breaths, Theory U, Chaordic Path, and World Cafe were all new to me. I will share some of them through my personal story and the other by way of example. I will let the people that I work with know that I have new knowledge and I hope that they will access it.

Thanks again for the opportunity and the marvelous experience.

Laurence Lenoir
Consultant, Lenoir Associates

I came to this AOH session to improve methods and technics; I realized it’s all about relationships and intention!

I came to meet professional facilitators; I met wonderful and meaningful people, just being present and able to set the right conditions to hold the space!

I came to speak and work in English; I discovered the magic and the interest about bilingual workshops!

All being so natural!!!

Christian Lord

From my experience of the Art of Hosting sprouted a cognition of a 4 stage meaning for living in community:
1) Coming together with a loving & willful purpose
2) Upgrading from Being to Becoming: witnessing and owning the onset of collective consciousness
3) Promoting & harnessing the infinite organizing power of the emerging group creativity
4) Harvesting the timeless sequential unfoldment & manifestation of our initial purpose for coming together

Geoff Selig
Concordia University

First, I would like to thank every one of you for helping to create such a wonderful and rewarding learning environment. I have come away from this three day workshop inspired by the power of the “art of hosting” and the potential for a group a individuals to come together and create, in a very short time, an inviting and safe environment in which to reflect, to exchange ideas, and to learn. Thank you all very much. I am still “buzzing” from the experience.

From Conversation to Movement

The following is a recent communication from SUWA, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. I was involved with them in the seeding of conversation as a way to bring faith communities together in support of protecting wilderness. And then they ran with the conversations. I love seeing this, now a year later because of the action it shows and the community that it reveals. It is a story for me that begins with “from simple beginnings….”

United by belief in the spiritual value of wilderness, people from diverse religious traditions have come together in a call to protect Utah’s wild lands. On April 21st, the day before Earth Day, representatives from ten Utah faith and their supporters released an interfaith statement about the spiritual importance of Utah’s wild lands and the need for action to protect these special places.

After a brief news conference, the group delivered copies of the interfaith statement to the offices of Utah Senators Bennett and Hatch along with a letter requesting a meeting to discuss wilderness issues. The same request was sent to the offices of Utah’s Congressmen.

Development of the interfaith statement has been taking shape over the past year through “Faith and the Land” dialogues held in a variety of religious settings. These forums brought together members of the Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Islamic, Jewish, Latter-day Saint, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ faith communities. More than 230 people took part. Participants discovered that, though their religious practices might vary, they stood on common ground in their respect for creation and the natural world.

Leaders of the project see the development of the interfaith statement as a starting point for communities of faith throughout Utah and the nation to begin a conversation about ways to honor nature and protect America’s redrock wilderness. If you are part of a community of faith and would like to participate in the project, email .

Working together we can preserve Utah’s amazing redrock wilderness!

And here are a few other harvests:
Report Created by Terri Martin
SUWA Webpage — Other Reports, News Articles, etc.