Witness

I love this simple photo from yesterday. I love the sun shining through window, and past palm tree plant to create a bit of shadow and light on my buffalo style drum and drumstick. I love this little moment of witness and beauty, taken by the light.

One of the frameworks and orientations that has become most helpful to me is that of initiatory experience. We humans, individually and collectively, experience life. Some of that experience is for fun and play, as it should be. Some of it is for learning, even transcendent learning, as it should be. The initiatory experience, particularly for transcendent learning, points me to three stages: departure, ordeal, and return.

My energy these days is very much in a “return” phase. A return in which it is important to witness each other in the gifts, skills, and even scars, earned or acquired through the journey.

This witness of return is very prominent for the Fire & Water Leadership Cohort that myself and colleague Quanita Roberson have convened over the last 16 months. In three weeks, the group of 18 of us will convene again (online, CoVid adapted) for five days. A big piece of this will be witnessing presentations of learning, some sharing that participants have experienced over the journey. It’s learning. It’s change. It’s how people have become a bit more of who they are.

Witness is also very prominent for me in the last two days of hosting with Next Generation Leadership Initiative. I’m co-hosting with colleague Krista Betz a group of 12 in two online sessions (again, CoVid adapted) that have been in 10 years of journey together. What once was a group of mostly early to mid 30s have become people in their 40s. They’ve learned. They’ve grown. They’ve been tested in the heart. They’ve come through a few scars.

Return matters. Being witnessed by our communities and by each other matters. In the end, this witness might be one of the most kind and sustaining gestures we can offer each other.

To bring us back to the light, and the shadow, and the ways that we have grown our capacity to be, perhaps, just a bit more helpful and contributory for these times in which we live.

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