What: The monthly gathering of my community of practice.
Who: Facilitators, process designers, conversation hosts, coaches, leaders and others keen to have a safe place in which to authentically practice and learn, rest and be.
Where: On a grassy hill above a lake, enveloped by parkland aspens, in a turn-of-the-century homestead cabin lovingly restored by our host and her husband.
The invitation: As we journeyed down the “U,” to be visited upon by Nature to sense, “ What is my Work? What is my Essential Self?”
Every month, two of us step forward to design a process and host a conversation for our colleagues. This month, as I and my co-host sat in our respective retreats, both of us “using” Nature and contemplative reading, reflection and journaling as the touchstones for sensing our groundlessness, she initiated and I followed the inclination to offer our colleagues a brief experience of Theory U.
We met last weekend to design. Her story, a synchronistic underpinning for my need, earlier that morning at the farmers’ market, to purchase the pottery bowl from Christian of Urban Forest Design. The Danish dessert bought the day before, a nod to her now known heritage. The book read during her retreat, Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser, a shared leitmotif.
As this month’s locale would be giving us the gifts of a natural setting and comfortably rustic home, we were intent to invite Nature to inform, and to evoke our inner wisdom.
Think of a place or part of Nature that draws you…what do you notice?
What especially draws you in? Why?
Move closer…what do you notice when you look closely?
What resonates with you? Why?
Reflect for a moment and notice even more deeply. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel?
What do you now notice that informs your own life, or your own questions? How? Why?
Sitting with a partner indoors looking out, substituted for the intended “walkabout,” now necessitated by the unseasonable summer chill and new hatch of mosquitoes.
One would quietly witness, while the other spoke her responses. An image, and feeling, a metaphor, an analogy might be offered. But no explanation, interpretation, nor autobiographical story. We would each make our own meaning, even if it meant the emergence of another question, a deeper yet clearer uncertainty.
Return to the circle to share what was salient. Silence. Stillness.
Finally, a closing reading. The tingshas struck four times, each to give thanks… to this place… to these people…to this time…simple thanks.
BEANNACHT by John O’Donohue
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the curragh of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of the light be yours.
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work the words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.