The Longest journey | relate

Reactivity, anyone?

There is a lot of reactivity these days.  

To be fully transparent, I must acknowledge my own.  The other day I found myself telling a colleague about two people who were driving me crazy.  Now, who is that really about?! Reactivity for me is an indication that I’m over-extended.   I’ve lost the grace-space in which to welcome the other.  

Interruptions

When I’m over-extended and in need of a time-out, I want to say “piss off” to Henri Nouwen’s confession: “I used to complain about all the interruptions to my work until I realized that these interruptions were my work.”Really?!

Deep down, I know interruptions that are part of the fabric of life.   How we approach them determines whether they become gifts or distractions.  Invariably, when I allow myself to let go of my neatly constructed schedule, I find myself blessed by the one (or situation) to which I was earlier feeling reactive.

The Breath

For me, pressing through irritation begins with the breath.  A deep breath to center and focus.  Sometimes a number of deep breaths.  When centered, I am freed to listen with the ear of the heart and from the gut.  It is then that I once again connect to the inherent dignity of the person before me, while also honoring my own dignity and space. Moving beyond the heresy of the urgent, I slow down enough to hear the yearning beneath the words.  Yearning to be heard and understood.  When I fully listen, I can disentangle myself from the need to fix and instead hold the space to relate to the other, rather than react.

Relate

The origin of the word relate means to stand in relationship to; to have reverence.  Paul Woodruff in his book Reverence believes that to teach reverence, you must find the seeds of reverence in each person and help them grow.  He cautions us not to confuse reverence with religion; it belongs to community.  In a time when loneliness has reached epidemic proportions, nurturing community is essential for the care of soul, both of individual and collective.

There will always be people in our lives who give us energy, and others who drain us.  Some relationships support and delight.  Others challenge and refine.  Taken together, they have the potential to restore community: the context for our being, belonging and becoming.

Experiencing some reactivity?  Lean in.  You will likely find a gift awaiting you!

THE LONGEST JOURNEY | REVELATION

That feeling…

You know the feeling.  Perhaps, it was only yesterday.  Or maybe, it’s been a long time.  It’s that feeling of inner knowing.  That sense that you’re on the right track, but the details have yet to emerge.  It’s that gut sense that precedes any concrete actions.  It is the inner alignment of self to outer call, in response to revelation.

Whether actively sought, gift of grace, or feared intrusion, revelation happens in the cusp between what is and what seeks to emerge.  True revelation is always coupled with possibility and potential danger, which is why it’s not always welcome. Such is the way new vision is born.  

No guarantee (and yet)

You thought you had already risked it all, only to find that more is being asked of you… requiring surrender of your whole self to what is being revealed to your heart.  There is no guarantee of success, only promise that the journey is yours alone to take.  Revelation presses the question: Are you ready (really ready) to heed the call or are you still clinging to past certainties?  Are you willing to surrender your carefully curated ideas of how things should be?  

I had a coach whose favorite expression was “Step out and the universe will step up to meet you.”  While counter intuitive, this is the dance of call.  We step out, call steps up.  One caveat from Joseph Campbell bears repeating: “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” This takes trust and a willingness to be vulnerable.

Confront the Barrier

Is it no wonder that revelation brings ambivalence and uncertainty?  As exciting as possibility is, there is always risk of failure.  If we’re honest, revelation asks of us a willingness to be changed, healed and expanded in ways we’d rather forego.  Revelation is the place where we confront the barrier between our inner yes and actually living our call.  This is the way the new is born.  

Imagine!

This next week, I invite you to imagine.  Albert Einstein suggests that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” Allow yourself to imagine the fullness of possibility.  Dare to open yourself up to the possibilities before you. Do not edit your dreams before they have a chance to speak into your life.  

Imagine!  And then, step out!  I guarantee the universe will step up to meet you!

THE LONGEST JOURNEY | RISK

A poet is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable searching after fact and reason.  The art of negative capability.

JOHN KEATS

STORIES

What stories do you carry around in your head in need of revising?  

Jim Loehr speaks to the importance of leaders knowing their stories: “Stories impose meaning on the chaos; they organize and give context to our sensory experiences, which otherwise might seem like no more than a fairly colorless sequence of fact.  Facts are meaningless until you create a story around them.”  

Stories are essential.  They help us to deal with the complexities of human experience that cannot be understood by the rational mind alone.  They provide the means by which to live with contradiction, compromise, conflict and even crisis.  The challenge is that our narratives need revising; they need a fuller, more challenging, more honest telling.

FALSE STORIES

We cannot make sense of the present chaos, unless we confront the inadequate telling of our stories.  The “facts” are no longer so clear.  Whose land do we really live on?  What makes us good?  Why do we believe our telling of the story is accurate?  To live these questions, we must learn the art of negative capability. We must become “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable searching after fact and reason.”  It is then that our remembering is opened to engage the whole of our stories. 

The reality is that all of us carry within ourselves false stories.  Unless we take the time to name our false narratives, we will likely impose our biases, blindness, and fears upon others.  “Unhealthy storytelling is characterized by a diet of faulty thinking and, ultimately, long-term negative consequences… hardening of categories, narrowing of the possibilities, calcification of perception (Loehr).”  False stories literally reconfigure our neural pathways: both on an individual and collective level.

LIVING FROM STRENGTH

We cannot live from strength when our beliefs are rooted in a flawed understanding of self and world. Intimacy, generatively, and integrity are all born of claiming the whole of our stories.  Only as we engage the less savory parts, will we come to accept the reality that we carry within us both weakness and strength, good and bad.  It is then that we discover compassion, which opens to a future beyond the present impasse.

This requires an emptying of what we think we know.  The koine Greek word kenosis speaks to the emptying of self as the source of all true power.   With kenosis, we come to understand, how we use power to afflict or set free: the choice remains ours.  Much of how we use power depends upon how well we have emptied ourselves. Kenotic power is not like ego power.  

THE ART

Kenosis leads us beyond a focus on personal survival to an emptying that becomes the means by which healing enters this world.  We come to understand that our integrity is measured by the degree to which we bear wholeness into the lives of others and honor creation.  This is not just words, it is the power to transform.  Now that is a story that I want to be part of!

So, how are you being called to empty yourself for the sake of the world?   Take some time this next week to practice kenosis.  What false narratives are you being called to risk that together we might live?

Never forget that emptying is prelude to filling!  

The Longest Journey – Restore

The Longest Journey 

Last week we explored letting go.  Letting go of our sense of how things should be.  Letting go of our desire for a carefully ordered existence.  Letting go in order to take hold of the emergent new.  As Professor Bob Quinn reminds us: “Our ability to change is predicated on our ability to let go.”  But, letting go is just the first step.  With letting go comes the invitation to restore.

Restore | katartizo

My wound is my geography.  It is also my anchorage; my port of call.  

Pat Conroy

Our restoration as people and as a planet will not come without intention.  The polarization runs deep.  We remain divided.  As with letting go, restoration begins at the level of self with the healing of wounds.

Wounds.  Not simply the kind you see on the outside, rather the deep-inside kind.  The kind of wounds that Pat Conroy reflects on in the opening lines of his thinly disguised biography, The Prince of Tides: “My wound is my geography.  It is also my anchorage; my port of call.”  Growing up in an abusive household, the wounds ran deep.  Today, abuse on every level seems rampant.

Five Kinds of Trauma

A colleague of mine tells me that wounds are born of five kinds of trauma.  The wounds of:

  • Withholding, that is, not getting what we need to be whole and healthy.  
  • Aggression, receiving what we did not need in the form of physical abuse.  
  • Loss, in the form death, illness and/or accident. 
  • Betrayal, born of emotional abuse and manipulation.  
  • Prolonged duress, as experienced in war, natural disaster, and situations of chronic stress.

Fault Lines

Our continuing political divide across the globe, the unremitting violence, the ever-deepening economic inequality, the increasing abuse against those who are different color and/or sexual orientation, the daily destruction of creation, and/or (you fill in the blank) reflects the heavy cost of trauma, post and present.   Daily there is relational fall-out, resulting from poor decisions made on every level.  Like aftershocks, social media increases fear and spreads distrust.  All the while, the fault lines are growing as we continue to respond with incremental “fixes” to circumstances that can only be addressed by restoring the soul of our integrity.

Hope

Yet, there is hope.  If geography is the study of the earth, then our wounds are the study of traumas that have shaped and formed us.  If we trace the geography of our wounds, they can become for us a source of healing and restoration; a foundation upon which to build.  It is then that we come to experience the paradoxical reality that wholeness can be born out of brokenness.  

There is danger, of course.  In our vulnerability, many prefer cut-off.  We ignore our wounds at great peril to self and community.  Rather than providing the means by which wholeness is sought, our wounds become an underground source of disruptive emotions and dysfunctional behaviors. In response, we over-focus on behaviors and emotions—sometimes our own, more often that of others—trying to manipulate, failing to address the root wound.   

Maps

Often, our need for healing is revealed in an unhealthy response to a life situation rooted in false beliefs.  We stay on the surface, never digging beneath the reactivity.  But, as poet and artist Jan Richardson reminds us: “Somewhere beneath our hungers are maps… there is a geography to our desires… our yearnings possess longitude and latitude… if we follow their lines, they can help us find our way.”

It is time to name the root wounds—our own, society’s and the planet—so that we can might begin to heal, at the level of self, family, community, nation and creation.  When we dare to name our wounds, we are released to experience truth and acceptance about ourselves and others.  With acceptance comes peace.  Just as Pat Conway’s wounds provided deep inspiration for his writing, so our wounds can and will provide inspiration for our leadership.  The koine Greek word for restore is katartizo.  It means to mend what is broken, to repair and restore.  It is also translated as equip, with the ethical intent of strengthening and making what one ought to be.  

With our restoration comes equipping for life.  When we dare to seek restoration, we find our choices emerge from a place of healing that neither reduces nor hides from the brokenness, but instead draws life from them.

Wholeness

In a time when many superficial voices speak, those who dare articulate the pain of the wounds intuit a way forward that offers healing and wholeness not just on an individual level, but also on a family, community and societal level.  If indeed, a large portion of our anxiety is tied to systemic challenges, then they must be addressed systemically, beginning at the level of self.  Our centralized structures were not built for our global world. 

Deep down, we know that we all have wounds in need of healing.  Put another way, we all got stuff.  I got stuff.  You got stuff.  How might our stuff serve as our port of call toward the flourishing of our communities?  How might we reclaim our agency?  Not in spite of the trauma, but through claiming the wholeness born of our brokenness.  Therein, lies the hidden gift.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you able to name both ancestral and childhood wounds that have impacted who you are today?
  2. What situations most easily trigger you?
  3. Take some time to explore any possible connections between the two.

Practice: Tracing the Geography of Our Wounds

Wounds and roots, they go together.  One of my favorite desert wisdom sayings comes from Abba Poeman: The greater the hollow carved out in grief, the more room for joy to dwell therein.    The paradox of wounds is that out of our brokenness, can come healing when we claim the fullness of our stories.

This next week download and print out google maps of places where you have lived.  Create a collage and then grab some colored pens to annotate the journey.  As you trace the latitude and longitude of your life, what in you deserves the gift of restoration? 

The Longest Journey – Release

Long ago, Dag Hammarskjöld noted that the longest journey is the journey inward.  Too often, we allow our outer life to distract us from the most important work we can do, the inner work that informs the whole of our lives.  It’s time to do that work for the soul of our leadership!  Will we repeat the past or commit to shaping a future out of the intersection of personal transformation,  innovation, and systemic change?  Join me for a seven-week journey of letting go to take hold.

Release | morphoo | Let Go!

You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the birth, for the hour of the new clarity.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The image… the call to establish a community of Poets & Prophets… first came in 2012.  The early nudges expressed in a growing sense that I was no longer in the right seat on the bus.  By the time I wrote and presented a white paper on The Leader as Poet & Prophet in 2014, it was clear that I was entering into a season of disquiet.  A season in which I would have one foot in and one foot out of the institution.  It was time to nurture the poet and prophet within.

By their very calling, prophets are leaders who serve at the margins.  Shaped by the institution, prophets see the disconnect between the espoused mission and institutional survival.  But, the voice of the prophet alone is not enough.  It must be woven with the poet.  Many voices compete for our allegiance.  The poet helps us to remember who we are that we might reclaim the integrity of core identity, character and call.  Beyond the quick fix, beyond the individualization of our times, beyond the loss and pain born of deep change, nurturing the poet and prophet within releases a paradoxical hope for the future, in the face of deep loss.

The Future Must Enter You

Little did I know the prophetic truth of the poet’s words: “The future must enter you long before it happens.”  As with the stages of grief identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, I found myself first in denial that I would actually need to leave the institution.*  Couldn’t I do the work from within?  Hadn’t I earned the right?

Denial was followed by anger at the system for its failure to change.  Even as I understood that the system was set up to do exactly what it was created to do, I wanted the change without disruption to my own life.  Then came the negotiation.  I would (and did) design my own position description.  The problem, of course, is that tacit norms displaced core values every time.  Finally came the acceptance that I could not be faithful to the call to support leaders in growing up and waking up in spiritual maturity within the institution. 

Seen from the vantage point of today, I am bemused that I ever thought I could give birth to my images without first releasing my attachments.  Attachments to the very things I was challenging: power, privilege and position.  It was humbling to realize how much my identity was shaped by those three Ps.  I liked the power, I assumed the privilege, I was comfortable (even if unhappy) in the position.

A Series of Conversations

A series of conversations helped me to release into my present call:

  • Anita Howard, soul friend, pressed me to name my call;
  • Judi Neal, founder of Edgewalkers, helped me to locate my work at the margins;
  • Janet Hagberg released me to focus my work with leaders and organizations “at the wall” (moving beyond the burden of ought self);
  • Alicia Forde, introduced me to Movement Ecology (https://ayni.institute/movementecology/), helping me to understand how my work moves across three domains—personal transformation in my coaching; formation of alternative community with The Meetinghouse, home to Poets & Prophets; and deep systemic change through the Pivot Projects.

One by one, the wisdom of these women dismantled my defenses, challenged my unowned fear of failure, and blessed me into my present work.  There has been an unbundling and remixing that I could not have plotted or orchestrated.

Releasing Power, Privilege & Position

To fully engage the inward journey took releasing position, power and privilege.  It involved reconnecting soul with Source.  The gift is finding myself transformed, degree by degree.   There is a koiné Greek word that captures this soul movement.  The word is morphoo (mor-fo’-oand it means the inward and real formation of the essential nature of a person.  

Our formation is akin to the growth of an embryo.  We are pregnant with more possibility than most of us can imagine.  A lifelong process, waking up and growing up involves not just learning about the spiritual life, but daring to connect soul with Source.   Like the hungry caterpillar in Eric Carle’s storybook, when we dare to surrender, amazing things begin to happen!

On a personal level, the journey has once again become my home.  I’m no longer destination bound.  Instead, I’m present to the invitation of each day.  With the letting go comes new an understanding of what it means to be, belong and become.  Do not fear the releasing which must precede the receiving.  

The hour of clarity will come… if you only dare let go!

Questions for Reflection

  1. What invitation (or resistance) do you find in the poet’s words?
  2. How are you being called to nurture the Poet & Prophet in yourself?
  3. What might it mean for you to be transformed degree by degree?

Practice: Go for a Swing!

The problem is that to grow, to take the journeys on which our growth is predicated, we must confront our own immaturity, selfishness, and lack of courage.  In a sense, life is all about our forceful, often overpowering need to take journeys, yet our tendency is to grip the swings ever more tightly.  

Robert Quinn, Deep Change

As a child, I loved to swing as high as I could and then let go.  The sheer thrill of soaring through the air and then landing on the ground.   The release and the opportunity to begin again.  It led me to ponder when did I begin to grip the swings ever more tightly?  When did my own immaturity, selfishness, and lack of courage displace taking the journey?  

This next week find a swing set and reacquaint yourself with the experience of moving through the air. Perhaps your knees, like mine, can no longer handle the jump.  Simply, allow yourself to remember (or imagine for the first time) the exhilaration of letting go.  Name what your soul is inviting you to release that the future might to be born through you… and then let go!

the longest journey

An Invitation

There has been much written about finding our true north.  But, what if the longest journey is the journey inward?  What if, it is not a compass pointing outward, but a nautilus that calls us first to a movement inward, that we might move outward with clarity and integrity?

The nautilus has long drawn me.    Symbol of grace and renewal, of order amidst chaos.  If indeed, chaos is the raw ingredient, then order is found in the spiral journey of intention.  This journey asks of us full engagement with self that we might fully engage with our world.

Just as each chamber of the nautilus follows sacred geometry,  so each week will draw from an ancient truth and practice to guide us on the journey.  Just as the nautilus mirrors the Fibonacci sequence, where each number in the sequence is the sum of the last two numbers, we will look at the sum of our actions through the lens of these practices, drawing inward that we might move outward with mindfulness, compassion and hope (to which we add a dash of playfulness).  The nautilus is a logarithmic spiral producing a living fossil.  How might the inward and outward journey of our lives produce a living witness?

The Shape of Our Journey

Over the next seven weeks, we will engage a cycle of call that invites us to:

  1. Release/morphoTransformed Degree by Degree
  2. Risk/kenosis: The Art of Negative Capability
  3. Remember/pisteuoBeyond Belief
  4. Receive/pneuma: The Breath
  5. Revelation/kairosConnecting soul with Source
  6. Relate/perichoresisEntering the Dance
  7. Reclaim/ShalomFlourishing

The Commitment

There is no financial cost for this journey.  Only the commitment to engage the work of soul for the care of people and planet.   The journey begins on Tuesday February 9, 2021.  

Will we repeat the past or commit to shaping a future out of the intersection of personal transformation,  innovation, and systemic change?

Long ago, Dag Hammarskjöld noted that the longest journey is the journey inward.  Too often, we allow our outer life to distract us from the most important work we can do, the inner work that informs the whole of our lives.  It’s time to do that work for the soul of our leadership! Each Tuesday, you will receive a reflection, journal questions, and a practice.   

To register: Connect@Meetinghouse.life (or email Deborah@PoetsProphets.net)

About Poets Prophets and Deborah Rundlett

Poets & Prophets is a global learning community committed to the soul of leadership.  Both immersion and pilgrimage shape our work.  Immersion into the spiritual formation of the leader; pilgrimage into community. Whether you participate in our online journeys, in-person immersions, and/or pilgrimages, this is more than mere equipping (as important as that is); it is a journey of transformation.  Our home base is in an historic Meetinghouse in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  Where our forebears fought for our independence at the crossroads; today we honor and work for our inter-dependence. 

Deborah has served in business, on the advertising launch team for the IBM-PC; taught a leadership doctoral track; and served the church as pastor and judicatory leader.   In 2018, she founded Poets & Prophets, a learning community for change leaders  committed to the flourishing of people and planet, to support the amazing leaders she works with.   She lives out her commitment to flourishing through The Pivot Projects, a global initiative committed to shaping a just Post Covid-19 world and Compassionate Ridgefield, a chapter of the International Charter for Compassion.

Everyone Lies

Everyone lies… Does it matter?

Everyone lies, he said.  And, it is true.  We all have told those little white lies to avoid hurting  another person’s feelings.  We have skimmed the full truth to make ourselves look better.  In a moment of anxiety, we have even outright lied to hide the shame triggered by an unhealed aspect of childhood.  Everyone lies, and it is true.  

The question is does it matter? Yes, yes it does.  For the care of both the individual soul and the soul of our country, it matters.  But, to address it we must be willing to move beyond shamming one another.  Only then will we be equipped to dig beneath the dysfunctional behaviors to address the root wounds; to understand the triggers and address them.

I remember an intervention years ago, where a cross-section of stakeholders cited twenty-nine incidents of lying.  The board was asked if it mattered.  Their response: Of course, it mattered!  With another intervention, it didn’t.  The “successful” outcome markers mattered more.  One system healed (with the firing of the individual who had lied), the other resulted in a split.   Our integrity matters.  At the same time, I continue to think about the root wounds and fears that drive leaders and systems to lie.  

Before the election, the New Yorker reported some pretty serious tallies: 


The President has survived one impeachment, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits.

The New Yorker

Yet, even knowing this, close to half of the country voted for him.

Understanding Moral Foundations

Jonathan Haidt, in his Ted Talk, looks at the moral roots in liberals and conservatives.  His thesis is that humans all have five foundations of morality that drive everything we do:

  • Harm/Care
  • Fairness/Reciprocity
  • In-Group/Loyalty
  • Authority/Respect
  • Purity/Sanctity

Both conservatives and liberals all agree on the first two points.  The split comes on the final three. In Haidt’s words:

Liberals reject three of these foundations. They say “No, let’s celebrate diversity, not common in-group membership.” They say, “Let’s question authority.” And they say, “Keep your laws off my body.”

Liberals have very noble motives for doing this. Traditional authority, traditional morality can be quite repressive, and restrictive to those at the bottom, to women, to people that don’t fit in. So liberals speak for the weak and oppressed. They want change and justice, even at the risk of chaos.

Conservatives, on the other hand, speak for institutions and traditions. They want order, even at some cost to those at the bottom.

So once you see this – once you see that liberals and conservatives both have something to contribute, that they form a balance on change versus stability – then I think the way is open to step outside the moral matrix.

Jonathan Haidt, Ted Talk

So, what next?  

Treat with Dignity

It begins with restoring relationship.  We need to learn anew how to listen to one another, daring to step outside our moral matrix.  And that, begins with treating one another with dignity.

Donna Hicks in her research identifies ten essential elements of dignity:

  • Acceptance of Identity Approach people as neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting how race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, disability, etc. are at the core of their identities. Assume they have integrity.
  • Recognition Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help; be generous with praise; give credit to others for their contributions, ideas and experience.
  • Acknowledgment Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating and responding to their concerns and what they have been through.
  • Inclusion Make others feel that they belong at all levels of relationship (family, community, organization, nation).
  • Safety Put people at ease at two levels: physically, where they feel free of bodily harm; and psychologically, where they feel free of concern about being shamed or humiliated, that they feel free to speak without fear of retribution.
  • Fairness Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way, according to agreed upon laws and rules.
  • Independence Empower people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.
  • Understanding Believe that what others think matters; give them the chance to explain their perspectives, express their points of view; actively listen in order to understand them.
  • Benefit of the Doubt Treat people as trustworthy; start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.
  • Accountability Take responsibility for your actions; if you have violated the dignity of another, apologize; make a commitment to change hurtful behaviors.

Perhaps a place to start is committing to practice one essential aspect of dignity.

Everyone lies.  And, everyone has a truth to speak.  Are we willing to listen beyond the finger pointing and distaste that we might find wholeness born out of our brokenness?

Poets&Prophets

Two Competencies

Nurturing the Poet & Prophet

In this election season, I’d like to invite you to explore two leadership competencies that I believe are essential for 21st century change makers: that of poet and prophet.  Now, before you say that you are neither a poet or prophet, I would ask that you hang in there with me.  I’m not asking you to begin writing poetry (although you might surprise yourself).  Nor am I asking you to become a modern-day Elijah (contemporary prophets come in many forms).  Rather, I am asking you to approach your daily tasks from the perspective of both the poet and prophet.

Articulators of Experience

First, some working definitions. Alan Roxburgh describes poets as: 

The articulators of experience and the rememberers of tradition.  They image and symbolize the unarticulated experience of the community, identifying and expressing the soul of the people.  The poet is a listener and an observer, sensing the experience of the body and giving that experience a voice.

Many voices compete for our allegiance.  The poet helps us to remember who we are that we might reclaim the integrity of core identity and character.  Beyond the quick fix, beyond the challenges of our times, the poet helps to draw people into hope for the future.  Through image and story, the poet shapes meaning out of chaos that memories might be shared and new visions emerge.  The poet weaves together the disparate (and often, dissonant) voices into a rich tapestry of story and meaning that neither reduces, nor eliminates creative tensions, but rather nurtures exploration of new collective possibilities.   

The Voice of Truth

But, as Roxburgh points out, “Without the prophetic voice, poetic leadership is little more than adaptation and consolation.”    The prophetic voice is the voice of truth.  As we come to claim the truth about their present state of being – the good, the bad, and the ugly – we are invited into a paradoxical experience of loss and hope.   Nurturing community in the 21st century involves a delicate dance of repentance as we acknowledge real concerns and delight as we yield to the possibilities born of an alternative vision.

Taken Together

Taken together, nurturing the poet and prophet sets us free to invite the larger community into a place compassion can be nurtured for the flourishing of all.  So, to begin, I invite you to reacquaint yourself with poetic and prophetic voices who have shaped your life.  

Deep peace,

Deborah

#poetsprophets

Reacquaint yourself with the poet and prophet within!


Please celebrate me home

Please, celebrate me home, Give me a number, 

Please, celebrate me home, Play me one more song, 

That I’ll always remember, And I can recall, 

Whenever I find myself too all alone, I can sing me home.

Kenny Loggins

Those of a particular generation will remember Kenny Loggin’s song, Please Celebrate Me Home. Haunting and filled with yearning, the song speaks of the hunger that is within us all to come home.  Home, such an evocative word that carries with it a powerful mix of emotions.  How many of us yearn for home in this time of Covid-19?

Home and Call

For me, Connecticut holds strong roots. While my husband grew up in Houston and I in New York, Connecticut was our first home together. We met, courted, married, and had our first home in Connecticut.  Our daughter Elizabeth was born in Connecticut.  We never planned to leave, until the journey became our home.

From Connecticut to Pittsburgh, to San Diego, to Amish Country, to Chicago, the journey was our home.  Yet, through it all the tug to return home remained.  In words of the poet:

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

TS Eliot

We are now back in Connecticut.  We have arrived where we started.  But we are not the same people who left. Nor is Connecticut the same place.

We are coming to know the place for the first time. To do so, we have had to reclaim parts of ourselves. We have also had to release expectations of what we had once known. It has been for us an invitation to participate anew in the ancient cycle of call toward the flourishing of people and planet.

The Cycle of Call

Marjorie Zoet Bankson in The Call of Soul defines “call as an invitation to wholeness, a spiritual prompting to complete the work of love that we are here to do.”  She invites us to explore call through a sixfold cycle:

  • Resistance What are the patterns of resistance in your life right now? What do these patterns have to tell you about your person, your relationship with people and planet, and your work (in that order!)?
  • Reclaiming In reclaiming, we seek the form behind our skills, the original seed of call, the DNA of our souls. Reclaiming is not simply a process of reminiscence but of observation and action. What essential part of self are you being called to reclaim?
  • Revelation happens in the cusp between kairos and chronos time.  It brings ambivalence and uncertainty, possibility and potential danger. This is the way new vision is born. What is being revealed to your heart?
  • Crossing Over True revelation demands a response. It demands a crossing over, coupled with a willingness to be changed, healed, and expanded as we confront the barriers between belief and embodiment. To cross over we must confront our fears. To what must you attend, in order to cross over? 
  • Risk Deep within us is planted the seed of new creation, dreams for a better world and the hope that our vision for a new tomorrow can be realized. We need to act to make our dreams real. Risk is the courage to change; it requires that we be willing to fail as well as succeed. How are you being called to risk?
  • Relate Call cannot be fully manifested without community. Community that takes seriously the call to shared purpose. Yet dwelling in community is neither easy nor orderly. To whom do you relate?
  • Release Completing a cycle of soulwork means integration, endings, and release. Release calls for generativity as we give our call away and begin the cycle anew. Release is a stage of rest and listening. It involves learning to let go in order that the future might emerge. What aspect of your present life do you need to release in order to live forward?

Coming Home

There is a tendency to want to return to simpler times. In truth, I don’t believe there ever were simpler times, just different. Each generation must reclaim and risk. Each individual must relate and release. There will always be resistance to letting go. Receiving revelation will always require crossing over to the new. Yet when we dare to be changed, healed, and grown, we come home to ourselves and our world. We come to know our place for the first time. No wonder the thought of home brings such yearning. 

We are not the first to live in challenging times. The question is how will we respond? May we commit to celebrating one another home… for the sake of people and planet!

#poetsprophets #pivotprojects #consciousleadership

Out of the hollow… Joy!

Challenged

Yesterday I was challenged by soul friend Judi Neal to name the joy that is at the center of who I am and what I do.  In this season where death is encountered daily across the globe and chaos ensues, joy must be named with care, so as not to discount the challenging times in which we find ourselves.  At the same time, when we fail to acknowledge joy, we dishonor the paradoxical reality that joy is often best understood in tumultuous times. 

Out of Grief

The joy of which I speak is not a surface emotion, but a deep, abiding reality that shapes and forms us—in season and out.  Desert Father Abba Poeman speaks of the paradoxical nature of joy when he reminds us: The greater the hollow carved out in grief, the more room for joy to dwell therein.  There is much to distract us from joy in this season.  We cannot ignore the deep pain of our present reality.  Yet without joy, our attempts toward transformation risk becoming a brittle facsimile of life.   

Laughter, Exaltation, and Joy

One of my favorite blessings comes from an 11th monastic:

May the Son of God who is already formed in you, grow in you—

so that for you, he will become immeasurable, 

and that in you, he will become laughter, exaltation, and the fullness of joy, 

which no one can take away.

Isaac of Stella

What a wonderful image.  Laughter, exaltation and the fullness of joy!  Whatever our tradition or practice, we do well to connect soul with Source that we might know laughter, exaltation and joy, even (especially!) in the midst of grief.  It is then that we come to accept that life is never a state of either/or, but always both/and.  Shadow and light.  Brokenness and wholeness.  Grief and joy.

Joy, a Practical Necessity

Joy enters our lives in the most unexpected of ways and places.  It is not something to be reserved for the good times, but a way of being woven into the fabric of our lives.   We live in challenging times.  Times that make joy not only a spiritual, but practical necessity.  

How will you practice JOY in this season?

Without joy, our attempts toward transformation risk becoming a brittle facsimile of life.