Fire & Water starts today. This is a learning cohort that has been connected virtually since August 2019. Today begins our first face to face — through Sunday in residential retreat. There are 19 of us. This is the Fire & Water, that came into being in discussion and wonder 21 months ago as an idea. “What if, what if….”

Now, today, we have design created. It’s a template to guide us. It’s a container in which to invoke and fill with inspirited attention. Now, I find myself paying extra attention to the essential purpose that stands out. It’s not all of the words. It’s permission to be with just some of them. For me, these are about “coming of age in this age.” Oh, how relevant it feels to be together to be wise. To find wisdom within the box and outside of the box. To encounter each other — self and the group — with head, heart, belly, hands. I know that many of us ache for this kind of connection for living in times such as these.

Last night as I thought more — as I let myself be thought — it was transparency that was very much alive for me. It’s really an intention as I think about how I want to be with the group and with co-creator Quanita Roberson. Transparency — beyond the normal transparency — is what I hope for in all of our participants. I want to feel much aliveness together that can only be found together.

There are a few principles in that transparency that I’ve learned over the years. It’s like a supporting cast that helps to deeply enrich the movie that is this transparency. These are awarenesses. These are practices and orientations.

  • Start anywhere; follow it everywhere (thx Myron Rogers from Berkana of 25 years ago)
  • Get yourself in the room (thx Quanita — it is the first job of a facilitator and of a participant)
  • Support the encounter by being the encounter (the work, so often, is deepening the encounter, the engagement)
  • Contribute to the third space, the center (I’ve come to realize that it is this relationship with center, where intense community and emergence resides — and I count on circle to get us there)
  • Contribute to a courage to be in the river that is flow with life itself (yup, more story under the story — it’s all about flow with life itself)
  • Yes, confidentiality (for safe enough space; for brave space)
  • Yes, grace (because so much of the need of the times is about being in not knowing, and in departure from norms)
  • This is deep humaning (it always has been for me; your deep humaning, mine, ours; it’s self, team, community, organization — deeply humaned)

Today we start. For leadership. For coming of age. For initiation. For journey. For being together in brain, heart, hands, belly. For sharing energy. For growing wonder.

Transparency will help to guide us and grow us.

Fear — Khalil Gibran

Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese poet, writer, and visual artist of the late 1800s and early 1900s. He’s quite well known for his book, The Prophet.

Recently a friend shared this poem by Gibran, FEAR. I suppose one of the things about learning about fear, is that there is always more. I’ve known some of this in my life. The kind of fear that tenses my body. The kind of fear that locks in lizard brain of rather mass contraction.

Gibran’s imagery of the irreversibility of water from stream to ocean, and of becoming ocean — these both inspire me deeply. I would suggest we are all on quite a journey of becoming. Some of that journey is becoming aware of our fears, and if we are lucky, becoming that which we seek. Some of that becoming is individual (I think…, I’m starting to wonder if there is such a thing as “individual”). Some of that becoming is communal — irrepressibly communal, even in the smallest levels of being witnessed by one good friend and listener.

I don’t feel that life is meant to be lived without fear. The appearance of fear isn’t a failure. But like it is for so many complex emotions, our job as humans is often about coming into more awareness and conscious relationship with ourselves, each other, and what we stir in each other.

Enjoy the poem. And the journey, whatever version of it you find yourself on, on a day like today.


Khalil Gibran

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.

Try To Love The Questions

(Photo from


In the last two weeks I’ve been in two circumstances looking for the Rilke quote below. Time to catch it here.

Rilke was an Austrian poet living in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His work, “Letters to a Young Poet” are often referenced for their call to inquiry and deeper consciousness.

In both of the circumstances I was in, I was looking for this phrase about “being patient,” about “loving the questions themselves,” and about “living into the insights.” In both circumstances, I wanted to encourage people to be in the journey, to give themselves to the whole of it that changes us over time. I so trust the invisible found in the less immediate.

Rilke wrote in a letter to a young protege,

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Here’s to the journey, and the courage to be patient in what is unsolved.

Do Not Hesitate To Leave Your Old Ways Behind

My friend and colleague Erin Gilmore recently shared the poem below in the context of the UCC Ignite Leadership Initiative that we are cohosting with others. It’s a doozy. I love the threads of letting go and moving to the new. Bozarth-Campbell was one of the first women to be ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Enjoy this one. Fully.

Passover Remembered, by Alla Bozarth-Campbell

Pack nothing.
Bring only
your determination to serve
and your willingness to be free.

Don’t wait for the bread to rise.
Take nourishment for the journey,
but eat standing, be ready
to move at a moment’s notice.

Do not hesitate to leave
your old ways behind —
fear, silence, submission.

Only surrender to the need
of the time — to love
justice and walk humbly
with your God.

Do not take time
to explain to the neighbors.
Tell only a few trusted
friends and family members.

Then begin quickly,
before you have time
to sink back into
the old slavery.

Set out in the dark.
I will send fire
to warm and encourage you.
I will be with you in the fire
and I will be with you in the cloud.

You will learn to eat new food
and find refuge in new places.
I will give you dreams in the desert
to guide you safely to that place
you have not yet seen.
The stories you tell
one another around the fires
in the dark will make you
strong and wise.

Outsiders will attack you,
and some follow you,
and at times you will get weary
and turn on each other
from fear and fatigue and
blind forgetfulness.

You have been preparing
for this for hundreds of years.
I am sending you into the wilderness
to make a new way and to learn my ways
more deeply.

Some of you will be so changed
by weathers and wanderings
that even your closest friends
will have to learn your features
as though for the first time.

Some of you will not change at all.
Some will be abandoned
by your dearest loves
and misunderstood by those
who have known you since birth
and feel abandoned by you.
Some will find new friendships
in unlikely faces, and old friends
as faithful and true
as the pillar of God’s flame.

Sing songs as you go,
and hold close together.
You may at times grow confused
and lose your way.
Continue to call each other
by the names I’ve given you,
to help remember who you are.
You will get where you are going
by remembering who you are.
Touch each other and keep telling the stories.

Make maps as you go
remembering the way back
from before you were born.

So you will be only the first
of many waves of deliverance on these desert seas.
It is the first of many beginnings —
your Paschaltide.

Remain true to this mystery.
Pass on the whole story.
Do not go back.
I am with you now
and I am waiting for you.