A month ago I returned to my community of practice, the ALIA Institute, to celebrate our 10th anniversary and engage in what is among my deepest and most transformative learning. Always a wonderful homecoming, especially so this time as I was met at the airport by my two “Halifax sisters.”
During dinner together, I realized I was feeling trepidation that had been signalled all day by dull headache. “Hmmmmmm…wonder what this is about?” Soon enough three portents that this trip was to be the actual beginning of my leave, the “kairos” time of arrival and not the “kronos” of July 1:
- Selecting the Tarot card of DEATH as we were leaving Mahone Bay on the Sunday to attend the Institute, a signal of endings making way for new beginnings.
- The travel mirror that fell and shattered as I was settling into my room (first time in the years I’d travelled with it that I’d ever used that suction cup thingy on the back to affix it and never knew it was glass!) Shattered illusions of self.
The third sign that I was in the “right place at the right time” … our ALIA team and hosts are impeccable designers of creating community learning spaces, welcoming us to the possibility and potential of the event. This year’s iteration of tradition, we gathered together in the large meeting hall, 200 of us from around the world, and were invited by our hosts, Marianne and Sera, to reflect and then write on coloured “post-its” our intention for the week and the roots that ground us. We then each crossed through one of four “thresholds” that surrounded the large tree calligrapher Barbara Bash had painted, and then each posted our “leaves” and “roots.”
Earlier in the spring I’d read Angeles Arrien’s The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom (2005), in which she refers to thesholds and gates as “the symbolic passageways into new worlds” with a threshold suggesting “the place or moment where transformational work, learning or integration occurs.” (9)
It all came together as joyful trepidation…or trepiditious joy, depending on the day or moment – kairos and kronos – and continues to be thus.