Three years ago I wrote a short piece to be used by The Berkana Institute to support an initiative that had people gathering as Circles of Friends. The full piece is here. The gist of it included these noticings:
- People everywhere yearn for connection.
- People everywhere yearn for friendship.
- People everywhere yearn for presence.
- People everywhere yearn for community.
I would add now a further noticing and pattern. People everywhere yearn for accomplishment. Some of us lead with accomplishment, and with such intensity that we lose our memory and awareness of how connection, friendship, presence, and community shape that accomplishment, just as we forget how wind and water shape a beautiful canyon.
I really enjoyed my last two weeks of work and the people that I was able to work with. First in Carefree, Arizona with ministers that are part of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative, a cohort program convened by The United Church of Christ, Pension Board. It was great to meet in such unique geography among Saguaro, Prickly Pear, Aloe, and many other forms of desert landscape. Those are life forms that have learned to adapt and thrive in a very intense environment. The cohort that I taught on Team-Building and The Art of Hosting included many aspects of connection, friendship, presence, community, and accomplishment.
I also really enjoyed more recently and immediately, following Arizona, shifting to the open flat plains of Texas, just north of Denton. The venue for hosting 40 University of North Texas Deans, Associate Deans, Chairs, Faculty, and Senior Administration was at a place called Buffalo Valley Event Center. Yes, there were buffalo in a neighboring field, a conservation herd. There is much to learn about buffalo also that could quite inform how we humans are together. With UNT, I was part of a team (Chris Corrigan and Caitlin Frost) to help bring more of the participative leadership paradigm to helping this university become what it can, and grow from what it already is.
I am reminded from both of these events with very different people involved, that despite our many different positions and our very different environments, given time, people everywhere reawaken to some very basic desires and appreciations together. Yes, accomplishment is often what starts us on a path that is sometimes prickly and sometimes vast and open to grazing. It is further true that people everywhere yearn for what is underneath all of that — connection, friendship, presence, and community. A participant from UNT claimed it so beautifully in a closing circle — “I so often forget that my brain is connected to my soul. These last three days have been so much about remembering that connection.”