Off to a Journey

I love the metaphor and reality of journey. It opens me to things not fully planned, nor fully planable. It opens me to surprise. It opens me to patience. It opens me to seeing bigger or perhaps just differently.

Sometimes the journey is over cement, as was the case for this snail on my front sidewalk recently. Sometimes the journey is over softer and more fluid landscapes. Sometimes the journey is deep into the forests. As has always been true, the journey is both inner and outer.

I’m embarking on a journey today. It’s a trip north to Sointula, an island off the northeast coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island. The context is a Men’s Retreat, where nine of us will gather for four days of story, song, silence, dream shares, cooking, land, ocean, camaraderie, mutuality, mystery, willingness to be moved, love, kindness, clarity. It’s a gathering that has been important to me over the years with men old and new in shared wonder and in shared sorting.

I love the metaphor and reality of journey. I’ll pause writing this blog next week, and likely the following too, for the journey that follows this journey, and for some writing that is waking my heart, my explorations, and the kind of convenings that I next wish to birth and offer to others seeking home in the world.

If you wish a few resources that I’ve written previously on journey, try these below. And as has always been true, reach back with a comment, or invitation to listen together, or or invitation to explore how such journey can help in teams, communities, organizations — it is work and journey that I love.

Splitting Wood — From Most Mornings

It is nearing the one year mark since I published Most Mornings. I find myself attentive today to how those poems from a year ago are now living in me. It’s one of the things that I love about poetry — it can evolve meaning and presence over time.

For this particular poem, Splitting Wood, I’m also attentive to the good work that men can do together, and need to do together over time. I’m headed to a men’s retreat this weekend, a version of which from a few years ago helped to create the content for Spitting Wood. It was such a beautiful thing to be with kind men in friendship and journey. It was the last line about “stacking friendship” that helped get the poem going in my imagination.

Most Mornings is available for purchase on Amazon. Thank you for purchases, shares, gifts to others.

Splitting Wood
Tenneson Woolf

They split the wood,
these five men working together.

One man, with long grayed beard and kind eyes,
operated the wood splitter.

Two men lifted large tree stumps,
to place just so under the chop of the modern axe.

Two men collected the split wood in wheelbarrow
to transport and stack neatly in covered shed.

This was not hard work, these five men splitting wood
that would warm many a winter morning.

This was good work, these five men helping each other,
stacking friendship, warmth, and memory.

Your Being Wishes To Know You, Just As You Are

I’m grateful again to Michael Meade for his posts and shares. I’m drawn to this one above that points toward being from a deep center.

For many of us in facilitation work, it is the deep center that we try to cultivate. To grow. To animate. To center the work of the day or the season.

There’s a poem that I included in Most Mornings, which is now coming up on a one year anniversary of publication. It was that last line — “You’re being wishes to know you, just as you are.” — that was compelling me in this poem. It was a time of trying to remember that my relationship with the deeply inner helps to clarify so much of what I do in the outer. It was a time of trying to remember the utter fruitfulness of stillness.

The poem is called Start Here.

Start Here
Tenneson Woolf

don’t start with noise.

A program,
a podcast,

an article,
a book.

Start instead
with stillness.


that honors
new day.

Your being wishes to know you
just as you are.

Much of my work continues these days, helping to bring being and the deeply inner. Helping to cultivate such sustained orientations in learning and leadership. I’m beginning to recreate, expand, and nuance some of the work that I love — facilitating, speaking, teaching, sharing poetry, coaching, and guiding — that brings more fulfilling ways of being in work and community. Perhaps some of this also calls to you and your being, in your work and in your community. The first step is always a call to begin the possibility.

A bow.

Poetry — It Invites Relationship With Essence

I love this image from a recent walk, seeing both the cones on this Pine Tree, but also the long expanding needles. Particularly in Spring, such sights nudge me to reflections on newness, on life expanding. The images — when I’m open to feel and to follow — they inspire a depth of being that comes from essence.

And so does poetry. Writing in prosed form has become one of my longest daily commitments now. It is over the last six years in particular that I’ve made habit of both writing poetry and reading more from others. It’s oodles of journal entries to reflect on what the morning and the overnight has offered. Some of those remain in rough form. Some get polished. Some get shared. What I love most about it, over these six years, is that writing poetry brings me to a relationship with essence, which I feel has been with me for 60 years. Poetry invites an attentiveness to the core of what is happening and what is unfolding, what is feeling and what is finding. Often through simple beginning points, such as new growth on a neighbor’s Pine Tree.

Hmm. Poetry invites relationship.

With essence. I find also, with structure. When I write, I’m paying attention to the way that a poem wants to appear on the page. I’m paying attention to phrases that wish to be repeated. And there’s something I love in this. An invitation to relationship with structure is broader than words that I write on page. For then, I’m also paying attention to structure in other aspects of my life. In work. In relationship. In family.

Yesterday I wrote more paragraphed, short essay style about what All Humans seek. To be loved. To be heard, seen, and loved. Belonging, safety, accomplishment. Well, there was a prosed form that came first, from morning journal writing. Again, with attentiveness to some of what is most simple.

For clarity, and love of essence.

What All Humans Seek
Tenneson Woolf

The descent to neuro-entrained fear is steep and slippery.
It is harsh deception and over-reached survival insistence.
Fear’s shouting is persistent.

Yet I don’t think what we desire is really that complicated.
I, and so many others, seek belonging — acceptance of who we are.
I, and so many others, seek safety — physical and emotional, spiritual too.
I, and so many others, seek accomplishment — excelling and contributing both solo and with others.

The first step is deeply inner.
If sought only in the outer, there is less container to hold found healing waters.

The first step also is to give what one wishes to get.
It is living and invoking belonging, safety, and accomplishment.

I am learning that there is profound necessary undoing to find way to essence.
I seek belonging — to notice and welcome what is already and undeniably here.
asdThe plethora of friends and colleagues with whom creation and joy compels.
I seek safety — to celebrate and assert what already is.
asdThis home, this car, bills paid, a meal to nourish.
I seek accomplishment — to love and accept what is already occurring.
asdThe planning meeting, the shared podcast, the collection of poems nearing publication.

Yet maybe essence is even more simple than that,

in the poetry and in the practice.

asdIn self.
asdWith others.
asdWith Life.