Human to Human is a daily blog. It’s journalling and learning in public, Monday through Thursday, in which I post current learnings (taking sporadic weeks off to write longer pieces or to rest). Posts are 300-500 words, often with photos, intended to be read in five minutes and inspire reflection, individually and communally, on varied aspects of participative leadership practices, insights, and human to human depth.
I’m grateful for this poem, shared last week as a Start Point for a class on The Circle Way (thx Kimberly).
And I’m grateful to this poet, Shelley Blooms for inviting such feeling into what is the deep work of this time for many of us — feeling our way home.
a fragile bend of the heart
Shelley Blooms, 2019
let us meet there
at a fragile bend of the heart
at a threshold of acceptance
where compassion and tenderness
utterly shift the world
utterly lift the world
from confusion to clarity
from darkness to light
from them to us
from us to everyone
let us meet there
at a fragile bend of the heart
where we are limited in all things
but our capacity to love
the weakness that will save us
utterly fragile love
utterly agile love
all our human venerabilities
merging there, invincible
at a fragile bend of the heart.
Some of my writing is about my facilitation work. Sometimes it’s a new insight on a process or a framework. I get excited about those things.
Some of my writing is about seeing the world. Through my eyes and heart, whether it be beauty, or sorrow, or the many things between and combined together. I get excited to be a noticer. Which, at the core, is what I love encouraging people to do in my facilitation work.
Some of my writing is poetry. Sometimes that is to alter the energy of words and knowing through a more-prosed format. Sometimes that is to explore an edge that compels. I get excited about my toes in the mystery of it all.
This morning I wrote this. From an edge of seeing.
It is not uncommon for me to wrestle with God.
I have a few disappointments in me
for which He / They receive the bulk of my rant.
It is not uncommon for me to doubt Life.
For the ways that things don’t unfold as I intend,
or thought so given.
The Kid part of me wants it to be certain.
Wants the future to be clear.
In the meantime, Soul keeps moving toward more disturbance.
Away from these charming predictions.
And toward Being.
I’ve thought a lot about elders over the last couple of years. Some of that has been my own eldering that I offer to others. Some guidance. Some grounding. Some questions to follow. Some witness. Some of that has been the eldering that I have received or sought out. For the same qualities of guidance, grounding, questions, witness.
One of my most clarifying moments with eldering was with my Mom five years ago. Mom is 79 years old now. So, she was 74 at the time. With my Mom there are many layers of relationship that aren’t always eldering.
There’s my Mom’s “oldering” (not eldering). These are those moments when we talk on the phone and she repeats herself. The brain gets that way. So does the psyche. My Mom and I are open enough to laugh out loud about it. A bit of teasing love.
A second layer of relationship with my Mom, not eldering, is “friending.” These are those moments when we are just playing together. Card games. Golf, which she still does with joy and the frustration and swearing that sometimes comes with a few flubbed shots. Again, we mostly laugh about this together.
A third layer is “parenting.” It’s sometimes connected to eldering, but I’m talking about the way that Mom will check on how I’m doing for money and if I need help. There is that inherent parent / child relationship no matter how old we get. There is reaching out to say hello with desire to not just share words but to share some heart. It’s quite sweet, which I now know with my children too.
And then, this layer of “eldering.” Five years ago, I was in some pretty troubled situation. It was very hard emotionally. There was no getting around it. There was no easy fix. There was much grief. It was then on a phone call with my Mom, though parenting and friending were in play, it was eldering that I needed. My Mom said something a bit out of character for her in our relationship, but it remains some of the best and important guidance that I have received. She said, “Stay true to yourself. This is not the end.”
It was beautiful. It was guidance and grounding that came from her lived wisdom and witness. It was simple. It was clear. It was from a place of knowing and from love. It was eldering. “Stay true to yourself. This is not the end.”
So, I’m grateful to my Mom, knowing that we continue to dance many layers of relationship. But when I try to hone in on the energy of eldering, this encounter with my Mom five years ago always bubbles to the top.
Here’s to the eldering that any of us offer and receive, that we are cultivating within and without.
I included a chapter, “Simple” in my 2020 book of poems and reflections, A Cadence of Despair. Simple is something I come back to often. Like central and essential lake for water in the forest. Simple restores path for me.
I’ve excerpted a few paragraphs below, with one of the poems included in that section of the book.
Here’s to any of us finding the simple, the meta narratives, to hold our rather complex journeys through life.
A friend reminds me of a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, a former American judge and writer. It’s a quote that I often use in my facilitation work with groups, teams and communities when I’m trying to invite people to deeper layers of learning and insight. It matters, for many of us, to find the simple, but to also pay attention to where that simplicity comes from. Says Holmes, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”
Such a statement guides me, and many of us, to navigate and explore the roots of our pains. Or, to wander and wonder into what is behind our persistent yearnings. Or, to follow and befriend longings that help us find our way in the woods. Simplicity on the other side of complexity encourages each of us to go more fully toward life’s initiating moments, beckoning us to not be satisfied with the superficial.
I continue to learn that finding essence and simplicity is less like shopping for an item in a grocery store, available upon demand. It’s more like awaiting a flowering spring bulb to rise from the ground, which comes only with its own natural timing. I continue to learn that finding essence and simplicity grounds me with a gift of guiding principles, and of being clear at a gut layer amidst complex things.
For example, when I was in divorce, and the deep grief and shame that came with it, I needed to claim a simple headline that was true, yet brief. I needed a narrative arc that honored some of the hopes, dreams, and loss. I needed to find it for myself, and, for sharing with others. “We were very important people in each other’s’ lives – until we weren’t.” Of course, that’s not all of it. But there is a kindness in the simplicity of “just enough.”
When it comes to simplicity, I’m aware that simplicity can be, well, oversimplified (the stuff on this side of complexity). A certain nuance of simplicity can trick us into avoidance from a needed, and more complicated awareness. Simplicity can also be avoidance of the heavy lifting of difficult personal exploration. These are all nuances that we each must face and learn.
In The Simple
I love the way
that horses graze in a nearby field.
Sometimes the young ones run
in short spurts.
I love the way
that birds sing in morning sky.
Sometimes a chirp,
sometimes a whistle.
I love the way
that horses and birds remind me
in the simple.