New Beginnings

New Beginnings is a gathering in the Mormon church that welcomes 11 year-old girls into a religious-based development program for 12-18 year-olds, the Young Women’s organization (YW). Tonight Zoe, Kari and I attended New Beginnings.

Their values are impressive: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity. The program challenges each young woman to accomplish particular goals over the next six years related to each value. The YW leaders offered several stories to inspire the new and existing young women.

To encourage Zoe to reflect on what she was hearing, I asked her what she liked most about the evening. “When Sister Stevens talked about the tsunami.” The YW volunteer president, Lenore Stevens, had described the conditions preceding the tsunami that devastated Thailand in 2005. The tide receded drastically before the tsunami crashed upon the land. Zoe reflected the intended point clearly — “To watch for the warning signs and to move away.”

This message was a well-delivered story of warning, supplemented with several religious practices to move toward, including reading scriptures, praying, and serving others.

As I listened, I found myself thinking about what “moving towards” could also be? What are other practices that celebrate and welcome us in to a full aliveness and beauty in the soul’s journey?

Here are a few that feel important to me:

Use our hands in the earth – plant a garden, work the soil, feel the dirt.
Take a walk – five minutes, fifteen minutes, or a couple of hours to feel the different rhythm of being outside.
Sit under the moon – just listen, just empty out.
Listen to friends – and take turns speaking honestly with them – Zoe shared this with me after a particularly moving experience with ten of her friends last week. Lots of wisdom in those simple words.
Be curious – embrace inquiry. Is life not filled with wonderful mystery.
Create together – projects, conversations of learning. Creating is a fundamental need and, I believe, instinct for human beings.

I wonder what others feel about moving toward that celebrates and opens us to abundance in life?

And Things Get Done

Once I touch the space
of connection,
whether through a person,
a meditation,
an energy field,
a walk on this earth,
sitting next to or under a tree,
creating with others,
deep listening,
being still,
then all things feel more possible.

My insignificant work cracks open
with even a bit of significance
and I get things done.
My strain softens to even a tiny smile
and I get things done.
The flow of abundance feels real,
washing over my toes.
Sometimes I just let go and flow with it
and things get done.
Problems transform to learning and creation
and things get done.
Solutions appear;
things get more done.

Is it really this simple?
Love gives us entry.
Love of another.
Love of self.
Love of life.
Love of colleagues.
Love of simplicity.
Love of the possible.
And things get done.

It is our time.
It is my time
to train in trust
to lean into love
to receive, to offer
to just be.
It is time to restore
simple, beautiful, creativity
that is in us and between us.
And things get done.

Learning from Aspen Forests

Learning from Aspen Forests

Meg Wheatley first taught me that aspen trees grow as a collective system. What looks like a forest of many trees is an underground web of connected roots, popping up occasionally as a tree. It is one system. I wonder what conditions create the popping up, the emergence of a tree.

I wonder if “mates,” learning partners could be seen this way. The root system is an energetic field or pattern. Each of us are like trees, appearing as individuals. Yet we are really a woven web. What are the conditions that help us grow? What light to one part of the system feeds the others?

It is interesting to me to think that not all trees or people in the system are connected to all others in a direct way. But they are all in the same system.

Is the deep calling to live the energetic pattern? Is it presence that creates the connection? Presence — sensing the field as the necessary condition for popping up or for nurturing our selves and our neighbors. Presence — as doorway into the pattern of living energy that seeks to create. It is in us. It is in the earth. It is in all living things. It is in other beings from other realms.

So, how do we support change?
– amplify the energy pattern of living things, always creating
– live in the stream created between people
– connect the system to more of itself

If a tree has no choice but to become a tree, what is it that we humans have no choice in becoming? We must become what?

Does a tree love its neighbor tree? Is love unique to human beings? Is love the contribution to the energetic roots that we humans uniquely can offer?

What am I on the edge of seeing here?

Aspens draw from earth nutrients, from the sky’s light and warmth. A link to grow is a wandering root. All together produces a tree that fits so beautifully into a forest. The forest provides exponentially more than the individual — oxygen, stability, shade, ecological home. People aslo draw from earth nutrients, from the sky’s light and warmth. The link is the wandering person? All together produces a being that fits so beautifully into a human forest? The human forest also provides exponentially more — a system capable of change, of creation.

Codes of Description — What is Hosting?

Hosting — I have searched for words to describe this form of work and way of being. It is work that I care about deep in my heart. It is work that I feel has impact, that serves needs in organizations, communities, families, and in myself. It builds community in ways that I have never known. Yet, it is work that can feel new and non-traditional. I have searched for the simple clarity that gives me room to feel and describe the surface and the depth, and that invites people in to do it together.

At a recent gathering, The World Cafe Stewards Meeting (August 2006), I met Finn Voltoff, a Danish man, who spoke of “codes,” the words he used to describe his work. Inspired by this, I was able to name some of the codes I find most accurate and helpful for me. Others may have different words. What matters to me is the energy that comes from clarity.

What is hosting? What is this conference, The Art of Hosting?

– Leadership Development. Stakeholder Engagement. Community Development. Employee Involvement. Which is code for…

– Participatory Methods. Open Space Technology, World Cafe, Circle, Appreciative Inquiry. Others. Which is code for…

– Hosting conversations that matter in the work that we do so that we get done the work that we most care about. Which is code for…

– Creating and opening spaces in which conciousness, energy, and love can flow at the center of our work and our humanity.

As clear as I can get at this point.