Restoring Wholeness

Yesterday was a travel day for me. I’m going to cut to the chase. It was eleven hours, and three flights, that ended with me arriving home to Utah in body, yet without suitcase. It left me pondering what it means to arrive emotionally. Or in spirit, not just body. It left me pondering wholeness.

Wholeness is at the root of most spiritual traditions. Underneath the hoopla, and underneath the details of procedures and rituals is most often an intent to restore wholeness. This wholeness implies a relationship on several layers. With self. With other. Among the “us” of whoever “us” is. This wholeness implies a relationship with trying on the possibility of “other” making no sense.

Wholeness is not just at the root of spiritual tradition and practice. I would suggest it is also at the root of family, team, community, and organization. The work, again underneath the hoopla and hoop jumping, is about creating encounters of meaning and purpose, of imagination and curiosity, of honesty and transparency, of humility. Many of us are learning many things about the nuancing of how to do this. I know it is a big hunk of my life’s work and the life work I bring to others.

Lately, in part due to some work and travel, I’ve been feeling the impact of arrival / departure of said travel. With intent to be honest with myself, and to be honest about sharing a simple metaphor for the way that many of us experience movement / arrival / departure, I notice I’ve been referencing the transporting device from the original Star Trek series. That’s the one with Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner. The Chief Engineer was Scotty, played by James Doohan. The transporter was the device that “beamed” people from one physical location to another. It turned the body into cosmic bits and then, when all was well, restored the bits to the whole body. In the show there were often moments when the transporter malfunctioned and not all of the person’s bits made it.

Lately, in travel, I’ve been feeling like some of me is still in that last stage of transporting. My body is here, but my psyche is a bit somewhere else. I’ll cut to the chase of that too — it’s because our body’s aren’t the only thing that travel. Our psyches do also. And not always at the speed of an airplane carrying us across multiple time zones, or just across multiple contexts even within the same time zone.

So, personal practice of getting ourselves through the transporter matter. Here’s an example most relevant to me today.

I woke at 5:30. Brain kicked in. I’m thinking about my lost luggage and hoping the airline will deliver it today. I’m traveling again tomorrow and need it. I’m in a short window of home. I’m thinking about seeing my kids. I’m thinking about projects that need tending. I’m thinking about the three meetings I have scheduled today. I’m tempted to forgo any self care and just get to the list of todos. It’s go-time, which does have a certain adrenalin filled attraction. It also has a bit of malfunctioning transformer in it. I can feel myself not quite here.

So, rather than just push through, defaulting to the natural compulsion of speed, I went to my routine. A bit of journalling. It’s still before 6:00 after all. And then meditation. Twenty minutes. Just to be more still. Not to go directly to planning and execution mind. But rather to create some pause. It feels like letting the transporter do its job. And, as I’ve know many times before, the stillness was what I most needed. To let my cosmic self reconfigure in the fullness that is today.

Spiritual traditions, and health traditions, and communities have long been pointed at an overall well-being as the intent and purpose. Under that lays wholeness, which is just a fancy way of returning to something that already inherently is. For me, yup, I hope my suitcase catches up to me today. But I also know the wholeness I most rely on is not found in a Samsonite black roller bag. And that it’s something that needs deliberate attention, particularly when crazy busy.

When Running On Empty Is Just Right

When it comes to watching the needle on your gas tank compressed against an upper-cased “E” and no fill-up station within sight, most of us find that to be a rather stressful kind of running on empty. Having been there a few times, I’m glad car makers, or at least car makers for the Honda Accord that I drive, have been generous about the reserve tank that invisibly remains even when the empty icon is at it’s brightest orange.

Though there are other connotations for empty that are rather stress-inducing, there are some that are just right. Like the kind of orange and the kind of empty in this photo that I took on the weekend, just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I loved the color of this sunset, seen from walking with my friend Charles and his dog Kai on a path bordering a nearby farm. I loved the spaciousness of a bit of time with a friend in which doing less was absolutely doing more.

I experienced a reminder of another kind of empty last week in working with friends and colleagues in the United Church of Christ. There were five of us gathered to connect face to face for a day of planning. Some of it was for organizing further the Ignite Leadership Initiative that we are all stewarding. That means designing meeting formats, imagining exercises, and holding ourselves to the deeper purpose of “the thing behind the thing.” As my friend Erin spoke, “It can be a revolutionary act just to slow down.” Just-right empty.

Or there is the empty of preparing for the online class that I’m cohosting with Amanda Fenton, starting this week. It’s a four week class that meets for two hours each Tuesday. There’s a lot that we want to put in to those classes. And to be clear, a lot of good stuff that are absolute inclusions for us. But there is also an emptiness that is important in that class and in that design. Emptying is being willing to stand for a deeply centered purpose and selecting just a few stories that help hold the class in good learning and right-pacing together rather than cramming in even too many good things.

Or there’s the kind of empty that many people seek and experience in meditation. I so value the 10-20 minutes in my early mornings when I practice a slow and long breath of detachment that seems to create extra room in my heart and soul, as if I’d just moved into a bigger home with a much wider sofa. That empty of meditation stabilizes and recontexts a whole lot of full or even over-flowing on most given days.

So here’s to the empty that is just right. Whether stumbled into in a moment. Or deliberately practiced as personal soul growing. Or remembered as an access point into the good work of a team in planning. Or just walking among fields plowed but yet to be planted, near cottonwood trees basking beneath New Mexico’s utterly compelling skies.