South Fork Canyon is about 30 minutes from where I live. I was there recently with a friend. To wander through forest. To be near a stream and pond. To enjoy each others’ company. To be moved by the stillness of a summer evening. To laugh. To share stories. To notice insights. To be in a canyon.

Some of the most fruitful wandering I find myself in these days, personally and with groups, is around initiation. The layer that I’m talking about is simple in description, yet quite powerful in impact. It has three stages. One, departure. Two, ordeal. And three, return. I realize that I’m using the language of initiation because it offers a lens and way of seeing to invite staying in the complexity of our times. It steers attention to learning. It slopes us into the value of some hard things. It, well, matures us.

I’m so loving this aspect of initiation in the leadership cohort program that Quanita Roberson and I are offering. In CoVid adapted ways, we are now a year into journey with the group of 18. It takes attitude and community to dare to depart from the known of who we are, dwell in the challenge of that, dwell again in that, and then dare to return with some gifts of experience and learning. The journey too is simple in description, but powerful in impact. We lean in. We share learning. We witness each other. We witness the times. So as to try to offer, or just be, what is helpful.

I want to add a bit of note to ordeal, perhaps to name some of the courage it takes to stay in it. In contemporary society there are a plethora of options to distract us away from the journey, away from the streams that point us to rich and impactful awareness. There are many options of addiction that do everything from temporary numbing to patterned dislocation. It takes commitment to lean in to who we are and dare to show up with each other from that place. Commitment that will challenge us, sometimes to the core — that’s what departure entails. I feel the stretch of that in me. Sometimes just wanting to give up. Sometimes feeling that it’s too messed up or too hard.

But, back to the point. Initiations. Initiatory experiences. The initiatory lens. All of this points us to the maturing needed, I believe, to live in this time of great turning, of pandemics, of social movement, of equality evolution. We live in a time when I believe we need our walks in the park and our wanders on the mountain side. We need our setting out on paths together, and to be witnessed in our participation with the deeper aspects of life.

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