An Invitation to Brave Space

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Many of us are paying attention to “safe space.” Many of us have been using the language of “brave space” in our community organizing and convening. For me, I like honesty that is involved in the invitation and invocation of courage that can arise in “brave space.” It’s a bit different than the false promise of safety, that is swayed or jarred by so many moving internal experiences.

I’m grateful for this poem below, by Micky ScottBey Jones, writer and activist, for the ways it calls out this honesty.

An Invitation to Brave Space
Micky ScottBey Jones

Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it side by side.

Elderhood in Troubled Times — Stephen Jenkinson

It was my friend Roq that first introduced me to the work of Stephen Jenkinson and his Orphan Wisdom body of work. Jenkinson is a teacher, author, storyteller, spiritual activist, and farmer. He is founder of the Orphan Wisdom School, a teaching house and learning house for the skills of deep living and making human culture.

In a recent interview, Jenkinson speaks about Elderhood in Troubling Times:

  • the etymology of the word “catastrophe”;
  • the journey of descent into the mysteries of life;
  • the fundamental function of elderhood;
  • being awake as deep engagement;
  • assuming the responsibilities of the sixties generation;
  • the transient nature of leadership;
  • the challenge of elders;
  • the dilemma of mutual respect and responsibility;
  • the love that life has for us;
  • unconditional gratitude.

Yes, there is a lot in this interview (45 minutes).

What I love in it is that he invites a different story that requires waking from a standardized numbing that so many of us live in. Jenkinson insists on the truth telling that is beyond what mass media conveys and feeds us. It’s so easy to just give in to what is common misperception, because, well, it is so common. It’s so much easier to not go against the grain of common societal narrative. There are many days when I just want to roll over in bed and let go of the awakeness path.

And yet I don’t. Many of us don’t. Can’t, really. Can’t seem to numb away the impulse to wake. Instead, we wake for another day. We try to offer some good. We dare to change not just the todo’s of the day, but the stories that are behind those todo’s that redefine relevance and purpose.

I’m grateful for this Orphan Wisdom sharing, to encourage another day of courage and kindness in the remembering together.

Courage to Be Communal

Courage — from the heart.

When I was younger, I often thought about courage as being brave. Brave to take on scary things or very demanding things. Against bad odds. Like going in to a dark (but harmless) room, or turning out the lights and then jumping to my bed for fear that something under the bed would get my toes (humor me — it still took some courage).

There was courage in telling the truth that was less than flattering. “I’m sorry mom; I failed test.” There was courage in playing ice hockey. It was a game that I loved and was really important in my growing up. I remember it took courage to commit to the physicality of playing hockey — you had to be in good shape, and, there was that one kid in Pee Wee C (10 year olds) that said he was going to kill me. It scared me for a long time.

Courage was a kind of armor. For protection and for battle.

Now, all grown up (humor me again — more grown up), courage has come to take on other forms. It takes a bit of living to realize some of the nuance of courage.

Recently a friend shared a sermon in which the minister named that it takes courage to be communal (and that community is the central act that we need humans need to reclaim). Ah, now that’s interesting, isn’t it.

My earlier versions of courage all felt very personal and individual. Stuff that I had to do. But this being communal, well that’s a new spin isn’t it. The courage to lean in to going together rather than alone. The bravery to be in the messiness of figuring things out together when it’s so much easier to isolate and proclaim narrowed certainties. The demanding, yet attractive requirement to see the invisible and the subtle together, not just alone. It takes courage to be together, despite, I believe, being hard-wired to be communal. How odd, right. Yet, so many of the norms of society now have us in this place.

I’m challenging myself these days to have courage to be communal. To be vulnerable enough to share what is easier to keep private, stuff that I don’t know. To listen to another’s truth and position, though different from mine, to hear the person’s passion and conviction and be ok about disagreeing. To act together, even when I feel all acted out. To encourage narrative of seeing together — it takes a village. To show up for conflict — ouch — when I would rather dismiss it or run away.

It takes courage, heart, to take off the armor. It takes courage, heart, to undo centuries old stories of individuals as just the sum of the parts. It takes courage, heart, to live as a composite being that is community. I’d like to say it is all clear. I want that to be so. I’d like to say that is is easy. Maybe it is. But courage remains central in all of that. Even for the most natural of things.