For Listening

Yesterday I walked near my home. Where I live it’s the time of year when flowering trees are nearing full bloom. Their brilliance and fullness so often invoke drop-jawed awe from me. And listening. I find myself staring at these trees, with welcomed pause, to be quiet and to listen spaciously in the quiet.

I’ve been involved in a few podcast recordings lately. With thoughtful people making sense of the times, sharing wonderings, witnessing grief and joy in human experience.

Peek and listen as inspired.

Human to Human The Podcast — Featuring Casey Tinnin (16 minutes) — Casey is one of my favorite people in the world. His energy and his honesty are very inviting. I met him through the United Church of Christ Next Generation Leadership Initiative, at which I’ve been faculty now for three years. Casey brings insight, wonder, compassion and so many other delicious slivers of aliveness in making space for people.

Fire & Water — CoVid Grief, Anger, Sadness, Confusion, Hope (12 minutes) — These all go together, don’t they. It’s important to give ourselves to hope. Or to witness it. It’s also important to give ourselves to the grief. Quanita Roberson and I reflect on such notions.

Fire & Water — Paying Attention, A Reflection (20 minutes) — This recording follows an online community call with people associated / interested in Fire & Water as a leadership program and rite of passage. A big part of Fire & Water is the ability to pay attention to the unseen as well as the seen. 



It’s a couple of the most basic shapes.

In the background, a circle, this time for 50 people. It is the hearth to hold us turned to one another. For four hours. In view of each other. In some heart. In some intention.

In the foreground, rectangular tables with groupings of four chairs at each ends. These are pods, with paper and markers. To again hold us turned to one another in smaller groups with deliberate questions that will invite possibility.

On this day, yesterday, it is a school system and community. I’m cohosting with Quanita Roberson. We are helping to gather faculty. And parents. And board members. Spaces readied for those who want to be involved in the imagination of a next layer of strategic plan, sourced by wondering together. For their school. For their families. For the broader community. For the broader field of education.

These are two of the most basic shapes I use. That ready us. To go together, in better ways. In head, heart, belly, and hands.


Learning The Circle Way — Three Ways September – December

Circle remains for me the most central aspect of how I work with people. It’s the most simple, yet powerful structure I know, to enhance turning to one another. To be smart. To be thoughtful. To be kind. To be innovative.

Circle also remains for me the most implicit agreement of how I like to live with people. Again, most simple and powerful. Again, to add to the richness of connection, turned to one another. Again, to be smart, thoughtful, kind, innovative. And to be, well, momentarily webbed in more blatant wholeness.

Circle remains for me a methodology that initiates and improves quality of connection. Yes. Learn well. And, circle is a methodology that becomes way of being that organizes and integrates more of the depth of who we are and how we are together as people in varied endeavors and settings.

Now, in a society that can so often default to sound bytes and pithy statements, I don’t want to land in the territory of an unintended marketing pitch about circle. And, I also don’t want to be shy about sharing stuff that enriches in uber needed ways.

Upcoming — in September, November, and December — are three formats that I’m involved in to help teach circle, and to help grow circle practitioners. My invitation is to the part of each of us that hunches are way into improving what we know as method, and to deepening what we practice as being.

In chronological order:

  1. The Circle Way Online — A Class to Nuance Understanding and Use of The Circle Way Components Wheel. This one is coming soon. We start September 17th. It runs weekly (skipping September 24th), four times through to October 15th. This is with myself and colleague / friend Amanda Fenton. We’ve completed this class six times now. We have a morning and afternoon class (Mountain Time). Registration is limited to 14 people per class. A few spots remain.
  2. Courageous Meeting — The Circle Way. This one runs November 19-20th. It’s face-to-face at a retreat center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Myself and colleague / friend Quanita Roberson host this one. Quanita and I are committed to depth of practice in varied complex environments. We are explicitly committed to the change and growth that is rooted in inner awareness and awakeness that then translates to practice with people / groups. Courage, with self and other, grows with a bit of structure that is circle. So does honest speaking. So does attentive listening. We anticipate a group of 25-30 participants.
  3. The Circle Way Advanced Practicum. This one is also face to face, running December 5-9, 2019. This one is also at a retreat center, Aldermarsh, located on Whidbey Island, Washington (north and west of Seattle). This is again with Amanda Fenton. People who come to this one have broad and deliberate practice of circle, sometimes from The Circle Way tradition, and sometimes from other circle traditions. Advanced practice is very much about co-learning our way forward as a group into advanced heart, mind, and belly. Yes, there is mystery. Yes, there is applied learning. Yes, there good challenges faced together. We anticipate a group of 14-16 participants.

Pick your favorite why. Mine include “just because” in a way that sounds softer than it is. Just because, for me, often means, “because a sense of deeper intuitive knowing tells me so.” Yes, please lean into that.

Another favorite why for me includes, “because the world is wonky.” That’s rather broad. And I’m glad not the only description of what is real. But also, humans, teams, groups, families, communities — there’s struggle everywhere to reinsert meaningfulness together. And some relational capacity for honesty and brilliance.

Learning The Circle Way — Three Ways. Yes, act now. I / we welcome you in this from your “why,” whether in “just because” or irrepressible longing in the places and spaces you seek community and great work.



The Simple and Complex of Gathering People Not Used to Gathering

I’m in a rather impromptu conversation with three people. Quanita Roberson, co-host and co-convenor with me of our upcoming Fire & Water Leadership Cohort — she knows stuff, lots of it. And Brad Wise and Joey Taylor of BeSpokenLive — each of the handful of times I’ve been with these two I feel deeply inspired. I think of all of us as colleagues and friends, friends and colleagues — frolleagues.

The conversation is about submitting a grant application to hold a series of community connection gatherings. They are about convening diversity. They are about creating connection. They are about learning. They are about being together. This is a think out loud time. I’m just offering a few thoughts to weave into what they are already thinking and will carry forward.

In the impromptuness of it, I get an intuitive hit that rises from my belly. I love that feeling. I know these people well enough to say it out loud without needing to wordsmith it. It’s good when people can be imperfect together. Or rather, without fear of not having it all figured out.

I offered this:

  • The work (including gatherings like this) is simultaneously about the simple and the complex.
  • The simple part is bringing participants into questions and stories with one another. It just works a pile better to connect people in what they care about through their personal experience.
  • The complex part is, as Joey named, creating belonging (a fair hunk of this comes from a container in which to share stories / experiences).
  • The complex part is also about interrupting patterns of isolation (or reactive posturing, or polarized defensiveness).
  • The gatherings will come alive with a spirit of celebration, of possibility, of recalling childhood stories.
  • The magic and the complex grows from the simple.

Quanita framed it really well. Thinking of the people that might come to such a gathering, and the community restoring that can so powerfully occur, she said, “We meet ourselves by meeting each other.”

Yah, that’s good, right. We think we are just meeting each other, which is rather monumental in itself. And in so doing, we are coming to meet more of ourselves. With aha. With tenderness. Sometimes with fire. With kindness. With clarity that only comes from connection.

Well, it was only an impromptu meeting and invitation to offer some perspective. I kind of felt like in meeting each other (just a regular old Monday) that I met more of myself.

Glad for insights. And friends. And colleagues. And frolleagues on a Monday. Thinking about gathering people that aren’t used to gathering.