More sidewalk art, from overnight freeze, Lindon, Utah.

Occurrences like the above picture have a way of taking my breath away. It’s awe. It is delight in the naturalness of pattern. It is the quiet confidence of beauty that somehow awakens an inner beauty in the beholder. From a plain old sidewalk on a plain old day.

I’ve been learning a lot about breath the last two weeks. From two rather different perspectives.

One is that of being restricted in breath. I’m working with some bronchitis. It restricts and irritates the lungs. Argh. Coughing spasms. Restricted breath. Lots of fatigue. I’ve been learning about resting my body, the body. To try to rest reactions that come from challenged lungs of common cold grown to bronchial challenge. When you don’t have regular breath, you come to appreciate regular breath. Here’s to time doing its work. And rest. And a few homoeopathics. And western medicine. And inner psyche. I’m just ready to breath uninterrupted again! Sheesh.

The other perspective on breath is from this beauty of the photo. Oh, how delightful to be taken by beauty.

From an interview / circle that I was a part of yesterday, I proposed that people are rather hungry to reclaim the sacred in who they are. It sounds like a more foreign narrative. I don’t think it is as foreign as it seems at first glance because I see people remember it when it is spoken out loud. I see them touch their hearts involuntarily when given a chance to consider such deeper belonging.

I find that people in so many varied settings of team, organization, and community, want to be breath-taken. I’m glad that my work has centered in circle, which so often becomes a means to add breath and awe to human communities. I keep learning that the “breath” that people so often respond to in groups is not from another format to “win,” or “spar,” or “argue.” Rather, the breath in groups comes from touching for a moment into reclaiming shared relationship with inspired learning and connection. People feel the palpability of a connection, of a community, or of a team in more genuine discovery — and it brings breath.

I have a hunch that this reclaiming of connection is pattern that is most needed, and frankly, most interesting, and most beautiful.

Like I experience in the gift of the sidewalk overnight freeze.



Overnight sidewalk art, ice and leaf, Lindon, Utah, January 2020

There is something very sweet about this photo. In many ways, it is uneventful and perfectly ordinary. It’s on the sidewalk near my home, next to the garbage cans, and on the way to the carpark. It’s what remains from an overnight freeze — nothing designed by me or other human. Yet I was immediately taken by a certain beauty in this. In this frozen pattern that feels like it has some design to it. I don’t know the science of how this moisture coheres or freezes into this pattern. It just felt like there was something kind in the experience of seeing it. I stopped. Got my phone out. Harvested a few photographs.

Small kindnesses are things I’ve been thinking about lately. The ones that come from other people or the ones that I offer to others. Or the ones that come from nature like the momentary pattern that I caught in photo, that evoke a momentary palpability and relationship with beauty. In part, I’m thinking about kindness because a friend recently shared this passage from Danusha Lameris. It was included in a hand-mailed, and hand-written card, that I was delighted to receive.

Small Kindesses

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying. And sometimes, when you spill lemons from your grocery bag, someone else will help you pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass. We have so little of each, now. So far from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

For inspiration, and perhaps some beauty.

Working In Patterns

Most of us are trying to pay attention to patterns. See the bigger picture. Work from the macro, not just the micro (and let’s face it, sometimes it’s pretty tough to get beyond the insistent and persistent micro).

This has been true for me in my 15 years of working with The Art of Hosting as pattern. Pattern of practice. Pattern of learning. Pattern of teaching and offering. Pattern of inviting. And it was true for me in the 10 years prior to that working with The Berkana Institute on dialogue, change, and the human spirit.

Lately, I’ve been working with a few groups that are really hungry for a holistic form for retreating together and for doing their work and learning together. I’ve been listening to people speak about their edges. They, we, all want a quality of experience together that is a whole lot more than lecturing with good stuff. They want engagement of their brains and their bodies and their spirits and each other.

With all of this going on, I found myself looking for resources that I could send to help shape some of the expectation and some of the overarching narrative.

Knowns of Working in An Art of Hosting Pattern is a piece I wrote in 2009. I remember it all coming to me in a sparky clarity, and “aha.” It was a few words for the “template” of Art of Hosting that each team shapes into more specific choices.

A snip-it is below. The full list of patterns is in the article here.

  • we will move deliberately between – energy of the whole and energy of the small group and energy of the individual.
  • each day will have a theme
  • each day will include a checkin process – (coming present) and a checkout process (seal our time and release us to other spaces)
  • we will offer some models, methods and maps to support a world view of participatory leadership –
  • there are many ways to inspiration – play, music, meditation, prayer, stillness, dreams, methodologies, art, song, – dance. We use them as inspired.
  • we open and diverge so that we can choose how we converge