When something is said to be “ethereal” it often connotes a slightly derogatory meaning. As in, “It’s a bit out there.” Or, “It’s not very down to earth.” As in, “That was fun, but now let’s get back to the real world.”

I’ve come to learn that such derogatory comments are a bit presumptuous. Just as American comedian and actress Lilly Tomlin once quipped, “Reality is only a widely shared consensual hunch.”

The real world, if defined as “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count,” has always felt a bit limited to me. As if, something outside a spreadsheet formula is simply frivolous. Can’t be, right?

I got a bit curious the other day with this reference to “ethereal.”

  • the mysterious substance once thought to suffuse the universe and be the medium that propagated light (and later, radio waves)
  • the material that suffused the realm of the Gods
  • something being communicated from place to place, yet with no precise location of origin

Ahem, this human to human work of connecting and learning in groups ought to be a bit ethereal, no? Creating containers for propagated light — I’ll buy into that.

Sounds a bit like “emergence.” Sounds a bit like “field.” Sounds a bit like “culture of connection and learning.” Sounds a bit like, “I’ll have a bit more of that please.”

Here’s to the welcome of ethereal. And to the continued learning that any of us have to support just a bit of mystery to go along with those good spreadsheets.

I’d suggest we, individually and collectively, could use a bit more light.



Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light


It is my experience that there is no doubt, darkness to lean into. The dark within self that often shows up as shame or fear over losses or perceived failures. There can be medicine in that in that leaning, though I don’t find I’m always able to go to it.

There is also the dark that is collective, and showing itself in compounded human relations in very stuck systems. There is hatred. There is systemic injustice. There is masked fear in reaction and protection. There can be medicine in leaning into awareness of those too. Or at least, not being afraid of being honest about them.

I so appreciate the invitation to the light, particularly when spoken with awareness of the dark. My friend Meg Wheatley is one who has often been able to speak this with me and others. She reminds me to take courage. Meg recently did this through a poem by Methodist Minister, Jan Richardson.

May it inspire.


Blessed Are You Who Bear The Light
Jan Richardson
(From Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons)

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives
in whom the brightness blazes —
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that

shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.