Monday, February 20, 2006

A Woven Story from the Final Day of Evolutionary Salon 2

Preamble Reflection

The dedicated hosting team for the final day of the 2nd Evolutionary Salon, Peggy Holman, Finn Voldtofte, Tree Fitzpatrick, and Ashley Cooper, share a flow of thoughts on how we each experienced that last morning. We each wrote with the intention to tell our individual story and then for them to be merged and woven together, ending up as one story about what happened in the final stages of the salon gathering, in service of the ongoing, communitywide holding of the space for what emerged, and still is emerging.

Peggy: I have been sitting with my story about the last morning, unable to tell it. It has been cooking me since that day. I knew we had done some something quite extraordinary. I even got as far as naming it a shamanic act of creation. Finally, 17 days later, some understanding of what we did and how we did it has taken shape enough that I am compelled to write.

I believe I learned something about the act of invoking the sacred masculine and sacred feminine so that something new could be born. I am also aware of my own newly experienced sense of what it means to be attuned to both matter and energy (spirit). I am aware that much of my own heart song is most alive when creating space for dynamic tensions to show up in their glorious difference and be connected – masculine/feminine, matter/energy, evolution as sacred/evolution as matter of fact.

That last morning was a journey into my own felt sense of these ideas. And it was definitely an act of service to the whole.

Ashley: It is important for me to note that while the details of my memory unfold in relation to my relative field of experience that includes the four of us overtly present as the hosting team, the power of conscious co-creation is embedded in the extended team of space holders, all equally present across time and space in this field of the cosmos birthing itself. A poem of gratitude for the space-holders attempts to articulate this field, but the reality is well beyond my own capacity to wordsmith.

Setting the Stage – Tuesday Evening

Tree: The evening sessions are when those who feel called to participate review the day’s energy and collectively live into what wants to emerge the following day. Each evening, all present are invited to discern within themselves if they feel called to lead the large circles for the following day.

Ashley: Late into the evening of that final night, I feel a need to hear what is unfolding in the debriefing session. They have been together for awhile now. I pull up a chair in the back, happy to be outside the immediate circle, feeling present in my place on the edge.

Finn: Tuesday evening in the farmhouse. Long talks about learnings from the day, the state we are in, and on how to deal with the fact, that there is a lack of money to cover expenses for this gathering.

Peggy: It was clear from the Tuesday evening reflection that we had some ambitious aims for the final morning. The reflection was intense, the expectations were high and we ended the conversation with a challenging and valuable discussion on money – how do we honor a labor of love?

In the spirit of radical trust, rather than everyone present taking part in planning and designing the proces of the final day of the gathering – which we seem to share a sense of urgency around – Peggy asks that those who feels called to be part of tomorrows hosting team say so now – after a few minutes of silence.

In the silence, I hear that it is time for me to be initiated into this world of hosting. It feels like this will be the event when I walk my first circle, inviting experience forward. I am quite terrified by this calling. I know the timing in relation to my own personal development is right. It’s time for me to actively and visibly open space for a large group. I know that I have much to offer in that role. And, I lack trust in my own capacity to take my first steps in a setting as heated, primed, and of such seemingly importance as this final day of the second Evolutionary Salon. I convince myself that the calling I am hearing is for me to open space with a group soon but not necessarily tomorrow. I am glad that Chris Corrigan is not inside my head, laughing at my resistance; if he were, I’d be a part of the hosting team tomorrow.

A few seconds after closing the eyes I notice a feeling that cannot be overlooked – I have to step forward – and an inner voice saying: No, I don’t want to, I don’t have to, let go of it, let others do it, relax and enjoy the day. But I also knew that this reaction was resistance to the intuitive understanding that this would be demanding and would have a larger implication in terms of dedication than I could possibly know at this time. So my mind settles, I let go of resistance, and when the bell sounds after silence there is only the action left: To say loud and clear: I fell called! It sounded unexpectedly solemn, and I noticed that this is more than I can know now, but hang in.

I tend to talk a lot. I need to tell stories and I tend to run on. I am not humble about my storytelling skill. I am good at telling stories to illustrate points and shift the energy of a discussion. But I tend to avoid leading the large circles. In fact, I almost never speak in any large circle. I like to tell my stories in smaller, cozier circles, ones in which I can almost ‘feel’ the warmth of the fire.

I know that the evening sessions are holograms for the collective field so it worked well for me to do ‘my work’ in the smaller circles.

I share this background information because on the final evening as the evening debrief group prepared for the final day, I knew Peggy was going to ask people to be silent and check in and see if they were called to be one of the conveners for the following morning. When she did, there was a voice inside me screaming at me that I had the call to lead the next day. I actually told my inner voice to shut up. Because I deeply believe in the profoundly authentic power we can co-create when we are silent together and trust what comes to us in the silence, I came out of this particular silence and admitted that I felt called.

Even as I admitted I felt called, I was hoping to get out of it. I announced that I felt called to participate in the design meeting but that I probably would not talk. I was vaguely aware that the money piece needed to be covered the following day. I knew, as few in the room could have known, that I had coached the ES2 organizers just a little bit around how to do money differently. In fact, the only reason I ‘confessed’ that I felt called to convene the circles on the final day was because I was determined that the salon not end without someone asking for money.

Unfortunately, as soon as I told the group that I was called to convene with Finn and Peggy, Dana Lynne Anderson said, pointing at me and Finn, “I am getting that it’s you two.”

Gosh, I told myself, there is no escape.

Finn and myself knew we were called.
Tree Fitzpatrick saw herself as having something important to bring in a focused way.

Then Tom Atlee, who had said very little in these meetings, made a brilliant contribution. He beckoned Ashley Cooper, who was sitting in the back, and asked her if she would join the convening team for the final day to represent the younger generation. We are all blessed that Ashley accepted her call.

Tom Atlee asks, “Ashley, are you interested in hosting? I am aware that we haven’t had a representative of the youth yet.” Admitting my attempts to not listen to the call and squirming a bit in humorous discomfort, I embrace this opportunity and thank Tom for listening to what I am trying to ignore (a habit I am practicing to release!).

So the team was given.

Coaching for the team before ending this evening’s reflection meeting was called. Some thoughts were shared, especially on how to deal with ”the money issue”.

The group began to openly talk about the money. I talked a bit about some of the ways I have worked with money in the past. Then Tesa Silvestre spoke beautifully and eloquently about money. I thought, I can put Tesa forward and I won’t have to do this. Tesa was kind and tentatively agreed to step in and do something with money

As people dispersed, the five of us gathered.

A short period of unclarity about roles and participation from another regarding addressing this money issue came up,

It became instantly clear that there were two interpretations to Tesa’s participation: one as part of the hosting group, the other to integrate the money discussion with the rest of morning. This was a personally challenging moment, as I became aware of a clear tension in me: would Tesa be wielding control because she held the key to money? I have no idea if any such intention existed for her at all. I was just instantly aware of what I suspect is a familiar pattern between funders and donors – shaping the work to please the funder. Because I was tired, I virtually blurted that she was welcome to be part of the design and that money would in no way affect how I approached designing. If she found herself uncomfortable and not wanting to be involved that was fine. Coming to the design that best served was my focus and if that meant no money talk, so be it.

My reaction was completely based on my own story, not Tesa’s actions. Yet, it set up a dissonance just as we were starting this challenging task. We had the instinct to move into silence so that we could sense into the purpose of the day. When we came out of the silence, the energy shifted and almost immediately, Tesa left, saying she didn’t need to be there. (When Tesa and I talked at the end of the salon on Wednesday, she told me that it had become clear to her during the silence that she didn’t need to be there. She had no edge around it. I apologized for my communication Tuesday night, saying how tired I was.)

After everyone else had left and it was me, Finn, Peggy, Ashley and Tessa, I watched Tessa get an inner sense that she should not participate in the design discussion. She warmly and politely excused herself, saying she would help if we came to her the next day.

Once again, I had failed to avoid doing the money circle.

It ended up that the four of us stayed in the living room to start talking about tomorrow’s process.

It had been a long day, and a long evening meeting,

As the hour approaches midnight, our attention for detail is blurry. We had all had rich, full days and we were all tired. We sense into the essential elements present, we identified two purposes: identifying next steps and harvesting, we center ourselves around the imperative need for clarity of intention, share loose ideas for structure and decide to sleep on the specifics.

Two or three times we fell into trying to work out details, but finally acknowledged that we were too tired, far too tired to accomplish anything meaningful, and the best thing to do was to go to sleep and trust that we would be able to do what needed to be done the next morning.

Near the end of our meeting, I share a vision that I experienced during our conversation. I see people standing silently with their posted offerings, participants move quietly to the preferred topic, those gathered around a topic find a place to settle and the group gets to work. Embedded in this vision is the opportunity for the whole group to see its process of self-organizing. Everyone can witness as the group disperses into smaller groups and then mobilizes into action.

We agreed to meet at 7:30am to prepare for the 9:00am gathering. I took a big gulp, recognizing how much we’d need to accomplish in the morning. I knew it would take a breakthrough in how we approached the time to actually get through it all in 3 hours. Believing that it was possible to prepare in 1.5 hours was a HUGE leap of faith!

In our departing hug, I am completely empowered by the beam of TRUST that I feel radiating in the space between us. This beam of trust is incredibly solid, palpable, and present. I rest in a sense of knowing that magic and mystery is unfolding.

Impulsively, I offered to bring coffee and bagels the next morning.

Walking back to the main hall, Finn shares with me how unusual and significant it is to him that the night before the last day of such a powerful event, there is still so much unknown as to the specifics of what will unfold. It’s interesting for me to hear this. Being a part of a team of experts that I highly admire, I carry an assumption that this is a normal state for them. Still connected to that radiant beam of trust, I feel excitement in the knowing unfolding being birthed. And as this is my first experience hosting in this form, I chuckle at the rightness for my own process. I work best when asked to be spontaneously present, listening deeply to what is and inviting what could be. I feel well supported by my colleagues and excited to be in my familiar element. The tension between uncertainty and radical trust is actively weaving a resonant field of clarity emerging in intentional space.

I drove home full of resistance. I am not intimidated by public speaking. To some extent, I am most in the flow of life when I am working in front of a circle. But I was being called to do something that would be really big for me, which was to invite the amazing people that comprised ES2 to use the energy of money to build an even deeper collective consciousness. I didn’t want to do it and I did want to do it.

I went to bed hoping that I would awaken the next morning with the clear understanding within myself that I should ask Tesa or, maybe, one of the other people at the conference with money expertise who had offered to help.

Preparing for sleep, I sense into the field, inquiring of my place in tomorrow’s emergence. It seems obvious to me that the logistics of the day’s flow will be handled by Finn and Peggy. Having witnessed the quality of their attention, their capacity to sense into the whole, and the apparent ease and familiarity with which they host groups, I release from structural worries of the following day. I believe my contribution will be to help generate a field in which each participant feels invited and compelled to show up, fully in the power of their authenticity. I have been asked to represent the youth and I take this request to heart, clearing space so that I may hear the fullness of our voice.

Before bed I begin my meditation and reflection with a quote from Juanita Brown:

“I am a powerful and evocative dancer for the world.”

When she shared with me this personal affirmation of her way of being in the world, I was moved to adopt and play with it as it resonates with my own way of being. I reflect, write and set some intentions before going to sleep.
I am powerful and evocative, dancing radiantly and vibrantly for the world.
I am powerful and evocative, dancing vibrantly with the world.
I am powerful and evocative, falling in love with the world.
I am a voice for the youth. My vessel is open to receive the message of the youth.
I have the capacity to hear, trust, and offer forward this wisdom.
May my fears and self-doubt be cleansed from this experience.
May I be open, honest, and humble as I have the compassion to touch Other’s reality.
I am listening to the collective voice.
I am enough.
I am showing up to answer the call.
As I went to sleep, I planted the intention that I wake with answers to the design conundrums we faced.

Wednesday Morning

I had a great night’s sleep. It was a wonderful reminder of the power of processing overnight.

A short night, with many halfwake thoughts, and 5 am the impulse to sit up in the bed, take a few notes, then let it go and do my morning meditation practice. A clear statement of what we – the salon gathering – had accomplished now came almost in one shot. But nothing about the flow of the day, which had occupied my mind during most of the night. Okay – leave it, somebody else will add in on that.

When I woke (early) the next morning, I had a basic flow in mind. I also had an idea on how to approach the harvesting.

I awoke at 5 a.m. channeling what I was going to say in the money circle. Still, I tried to shake off the call. I pulled out my laptop and wrote for about fifteen minutes. Then my hostess woke up and came out to greet me. I rushed out of the house as quickly as I could because I now fully understood that I was doing the money circle and I could not talk.

After a night of sleep, I awaken and move into meditation, feeling insight pouring through in the morning’s freshness. I write:
• A call to action to engage the collective presence.• {Precision, clarity, awareness of self and other, connection to Source}
• Hold a suspended moment that you don’t know what that next step is. If you know what your next step is – perhaps still hold it for a moment, allowing yourself to rest deeper into the collective next steps. (visa versa)
• (We) trust that we have the capacity to hear the call. I invite each of us and all of us to show up and hear the call.
• Harvest the essence of what has spoken to you, what has resonated with you, the connections, commitments…
• The e s s e n c e
• Harvest the essence of what has been offered to us. What we as the antennas of Evolution, catalyzing collective intelligence and social creativity, what is the essence of what we have heard?
I went to the bagel store and sat outside until it opened at seven. I was churning deeply with how wonderful the money talk was going to be. I was in and out of my clarity: it would be good, I would fail, it would be big, I would fail. But now I knew I had to do it, no matter what. I had no more thoughts of asking Tesa or Charles Terry. I was called.

I went to the kitchen to write the flow and found Michael Dowd. He gave me a wonderful gift of a hot breakfast. As we talked, a few others arrived, including Nancy White, who asked if she could help in any way. I’m not sure what prompted the thought, but I asked if she’d be willing to help get the room cleaned up and ready. She gladly agreed.

Walking from Aldemarsh to the institute in the early morning twilight. A different route than so far used seemed to find it self for me. It was a sacred walk. Approaching our meeting place from another direction I thought: People have been walking like this for thousands of years – some coming early, before the rest, to serve the community with some kind of preparing the space. I was not walking. It was that specific role of being of service for the community that was walking.

We all met at 7:30. My coffee gift was already cold. Finn told me that it did not matter that the coffee was cold. He said he had walked to the Whidbey Institute from Aldermash and it was dark and cold. As he walked, he looked forward to the coffee I had promised him. He said the coffee had warmed him up on his walk as he anticipated it so the coffee, too, had done its job. This is a small detail but I like the small detail: it shows me how highly refined the collective field that we built together is. I never offer to buy people coffee because I am poor but I did it and my impulse warmed Finn as he prepared to come to our early morning meeting.

I walked from Granny’s to the Great Hall. It was a walking meditation that prepared me for the design work. When I arrived, we discovered that unbeknownst to each other, we had each reached the hall from a sacred walk (or drive) through the woods. We had breakfast, thanks to Tree. (Yes, I had breakfast twice and gladly gobbled them both.)

We Show Up

Each one of us arrives aligned, present, open, available, receptive, centered, and ready to play! Precision, clarity, and invitation are the driving forces. Essence is our guide. We each make offerings to the whole and together hold space for deepening listening into the collective field, giving voice to form emerging, and finding our places as hosts, guides, messengers, and companions.

Tree is holding a space for walking powerfully into the topics we’re afraid to address – and doing so with radical trust. She leads by example, focusing awareness of self-care (for us as individuals and collectives) and financial integrity.

Finn tracks the pulse of the whole, inviting breath, inviting space, inviting silence, inviting awareness. He arrives with an invocation and affirmation guiding us forward into our next steps, keeping us aligned with that which is most essential.

Peggy consciously embodies the container, collecting the loose edges and weaving them seamlessly into the expanding whole. She brings to light the structure and form, focuses purpose, and continually elicits pieces to be integrated.

(At this moment, self consciousness and subjectivity block my capacity to single in on key elements that I contribute… my sense is that) I focus attention on essence and authenticity, resonantly holding space for us to engage with Presence.

Fragmenting these pieces and parts into individual ownership is also only part of the picture as each of us contributes to all of the areas and there are many unmentioned individual offerings. Additionally, and most importantly, none of us are acting from a solely personal place; we are simply the vessels through which the collective speaks.

The planning meeting we had was sacred space. The four of us, who do not know each other as a team, seemed to be working in an almost silent unison.

We tended to our little circle with care, quick attention. We had earth, air, fire and water in the circle with us. As each person spoke about their vision for the day, it almost felt, to me, like they were speaking from inside me. Everything everyone contributed as we set our intention for the day’s circles seemed to have grown inside all of us.

The four of us met, sat down in a circle, with coffee and bagels, and started with silence. There was a lively presence in the middle right from the first moments we sat down. During the silence the words came: ”This is an honour - to be sitting here”, and I heard my self give voice to them, and continued with hearing my self calling in trust and support. Peggy continued, addressing the middle: You are seen, You are loved.

It made complete sense – and it was big to be with.

Peggy came in from her chilly morning aflame laser like clarity about what we would do. She said that as usual, she had the exact conversation she needed to have as she walked from Grannie’s to the hall. I could almost see the whole day, lit in Peggy’s eyes.

We then sat again in silence. Out of the silence, the intention got more clearly shaped:
• To mindfully and collectively engage our first next steps
• To make visible to ourselves and the whole the essential learnings that we value
• To call our commitments into being
Qualitatively, we knew to accomplish our three purposes that we had to engage people in being there with precision and clarity, a laser-like focus. I knew it was going to require a mindfulness from me that I’m not sure I’d ever achieved. I remember making a commitment to myself to stay present in every moment to what was happening. What audacity, I remember thinking, to believe it was possible to stay that tuned in for 3 hours!

For the next hour details on the process and its facilitation grew forth before us, with ease and in a playful manner. We were all used to process design and facilitation, and we knew that what we were doing now was something we haven’t experienced before. Some details were agreed, mostly on timing – and later it showed to be quite accurate.

We hold the forms of organizing that are known to us in our field of awareness and sink deeper into the evolutionary edge and the call from the collective. Unattached to any specific form, we allow these known forms to evolve into new incarnations.

As I shared the basic flow that had come to me, Finn, Ashley, Tree and I filled in the specifics with a remarkable fluidity, each building on the other’s ideas. The final design had all four of us integrated into it. It was one of the most easeful and creative designs I’ve ever done.

The basic shape we created:
Create a worthy space
9:15 • State the purpose (Peggy)
• Handle announcements (Peggy)
• Give the gift of appreciation to Terri and the kitchen staff (Peggy)
9:35 • Eurphoric Bullshit (composed & sung by Viral Dynamics)
9:40 • Silence – centering in ourselves and sensing from the middle (Finn)
9:45 • A short marketplace on first next steps (Finn)
10:50 • A moving reflection, standing and weaving meaning (Peggy)
11:15 • Calling into being that which can now be named (Ashley)
11:30 • Money meditation (Tree)
11:45 • A last word/phrase of closure (Peggy)
12:00 • Ojibway thank you song (Chris)
I was almost silent when we designed the rest of the piece. I had a lot of inner work to do to keep clearing the space within myself for the money circle. When Finn, Peggy and Ashley did each of their leadership work on the final day of ES2, I was not really listening. I was holding that money circle.

It was wonderful to be holding the money circle. I felt fully integrated into the deep, collective consciousness we had all co-created but I also felt that to serve this whole I needed to hold myself apart.

So I didn’t add much to the design talk. . . and yet, I really felt like I was contributing just as much as the others.

My favorite parts of our design meeting: when we realized that we would do the piece where people could call the last session of the gathering in silence, well, something like a wave of warmth seemed to dance throughout the room. Yes! This was what we should do.

My other favorite part was when Peggy came up with the Standing Reflection. Yes!

And, of course, the other two wizards, Finn and Ashley were saying many, many wonderful things. We were all brilliant.

As we were nearing the end of the design work, Nancy White arrived to get the space set as I’d requested. Ashley, who had named the need to not only clean up the space but make it sacred, spoke to Nancy about what she had in mind. I don’t know what they said; I do know that the result taught me what it means to create worthy (or as Juanita says, hospitable) space.

We knew the VD’s would be performing and we said that we would not set up the room. We would let the whole create the space. And then we said, Let’s ask Nancy White to greet people at the door. She’s the one to ask. And then Nancy walked into the room, the first person to enter our intimate circle.

Everything was in alignment between the four of us and the whole collective. I knew for sure when the lead singer for the VD’s arrived on cue.

Finn, Ashley, Tree and I completed our work a few minutes before 9:00am. We left the hall to prepare, each in our own way. As we parted company, Finn expressed his sense that he had never done something with this much not knowing. I agreed the same was true for me.

Creating Worthy Space – The Opening

When I re-entered the space, two coyote spirits welcomed me, as they did each person. Kenoli and Nancy were amazing! They were funny, light and sacred, instantly transporting me into the kind of space ripe for something wonderful to happen.

Once everyone was in the room, I stood to set the context. I was centered enough to follow the impulse that arose in me as I stood: I walked, actually more like a walking dance, silently around the circle, making eye contact with each person in the circle. I’ve never done that before. It was powerful!

When I finished, the circle was silent, curious, expectant. I spoke of the ambition of the agenda; that it would take mindfulness and focus from all of us. Then I spoke our three intentions with as much clarity and focus as I could muster. In retrospect, I was performing the work of the sacred masculine, invoking in the lush space we had entered, the direction for our work. George Por called out for me to repeat the intentions. I said them again, slowly. Suddenly around the circle, people were holding out their hands thumbs up. The context was set.

We handled the business of announcements crisply and quickly. We brought in the kitchen staff for a rousing round of applause and thanks. I called Terri to me and took the silver bell, called Heart to the Nines, that I had worn to soak in the spirit of the conference on her behalf and put it around her neck. She then took it off to pass around the circle so that everyone could add their energy to it.

It was time for a little music. I know that when I’m focused, I can be really serious. I also know that the most sacred spaces are filled with loving laughter. It was why I was so delighted that we had the gift of Euphoric Bullshit to offer. As I prepared to introduce them, I realized to my delight that the atmosphere, that I’d be instrumental in creating, was already filled with sacred laughter! It was a really special moment for me; I didn’t know I could do that.

Euphoric Bullshit, created and sung by Viral Dynamics (also known as VD) was a smash! Nancy White, Chris Corrigan, and Kenoli Oleari were amazing. People were roaring with laughter. And still, the space remained sacred.

Opening the Marketplace

When they finished, Finn took us into our first collective task. His words:
We have co-created, supported and witnessed
emergence of capacity for engaging
collective intelligence,
social creativity
and community.

At this last day of this part of our common journey
we expect from ourselves and each other
to show up fully in all our capacities,
and trust that
collectively, and on the level of organizing ourselves,
we do know
what conversations we shall have
to sustain our community in action.
He invited us into silence, to center into ourselves and sense into the middle. He invited anyone who felt called to step forward and in silence, write a topic for action. It was a beautiful dance! The idea of opening the marketplace in silence was a breakthrough idea from our design work. It was fabulous! The session conveners walked around the circle showing their session topics to everyone. Groups formed to do their work. I heard from many afterwards that these sessions retained the mindful, focused energy of the whole.

Toward the end of this time (about 45 minutes), Tom Atlee asked me if there would be a chance to report on the session outcomes. It wasn’t in our plan and I could instantly feel the energy block, the resistance in me to taking time for this. Still, I listened to the voice from my center that said this was important. It was another sign to me of how much in the flow I was, that with a tightly packed agenda, there was room for what mattered.

I spoke with Finn and when people returned (quickly) from the sessions, he invited someone from each group to share the essence of their session. I was inspired to hear what was planned!

A Moving Reflection

Having addressed our first intention, of engaging with our first next steps, it was time to make the learnings of the last few days visible. We used movement for this process, drawing on kinesthetic learning. We called it a “moving reflection”, standing and weaving together our learnings. The instruction was to reflect on two questions:
• What was the essence of the value you were taking from our time together?
• What commitment(s) do you wish to make?
I hold a belief that I’m terrible at giving directions. This reflection involved multiple steps that needed to be explained up front. I was really focused on making it clear. We would take five minutes to reflect on these two questions, followed by three five minute rounds of standing and weaving. As we learned from the world café, patterns surface through weaving reflections together. The invitation was to talk to others, in twos, threes, fours. I would ring the bell every five minutes, not to tell them to move, though that was an option. Instead, the bell was to remind people to return to their own center. My request was to go to silence immediately, even mid-sentence. Just as life intrudes, so would this call to self. After a minute, the bell would sound again and they were welcome to continue or move on. Somewhere in this explanation, Alan Briskin, asked me to repeat it. As I was doing so, he said, “oh, you mean you want us to act like adults.” Everyone roared! I was thrilled. I had fallen into seriousness and Alan’s comment was a great wake up call back to sacred humor for me. I thanked him for the reminder.

Then it began. People spent time in silence and when the bell rang again, got up to share their reflections with others. I was thrilled that when I rang the bell again, people instantly entered into silence. The time went quickly as we shared our learnings and commitments. It is the one place in which I wish we had more time. (That said, feedback on the day was that at no point did anyone feel rushed. In spite of all that we did, the time stayed spacious.)

At the last bell, people returned to their seats.

I participate in an activity in which we reflect on our own essential learnings and commitments. In the state that I am in, my reflections and commitments arise from a core place in my being. I am deeply moved by the process of weaving through the room, connecting with a few people, sharing and witnessing with one another. The rhythm of sharing, witnessing, and being with the bells and silence creates a ritual feel to the field. I experience my intentions and commitments coated with the loving embrace and support of those witnessing my offerings during this time. It creates for me fertile soil for grounding and integration.

Calling Into Being

Ashley stood and much to my amazement, I watched as she took a ritual walk, a dancing walk, around the circle looking each person in the eye, just as I had done to open.

Days before I watched with awe and admiration as Candi Foon walked the circle, knowing that she was teaching me a valuable lesson about the embodied form of opening space. My eyes could not be peeled from watching her feet. Slowly, consciously, with precision, clarity, and perfect presence each cell in each foot seemed to effortlessly and ever so delicately fold into the earth. Each time her foot made contact with the ground, I felt that sacred union.

It is with that reverence that I walk the circle. As I begin to walk the circle my eyes rest upon the beautiful beings before me and a surge of celebration erupts as I awake to this opportunity to look genuinely into each person’s eyes. As I type this, a well of gratitude sweeps over me for that gift, for the opportunity to connect intimately with each individual in that way and to feel the flowing current that passed between each of us, circling as the whole. In the process of connecting with each person (in the outer circle) I carry fully in my body the complete knowing that as a group, we are showing up… we have arrived and we are capable of listening to the call. We are now ready to give voice to that which we have not yet been able to name.

And so I declare:

“It is now time to call into Being that which we are fully capable of naming.”

As the words pass through my lips, my body solidifies into a fierce stature, commanding that the chatter of the mind, doubts and uncertainties disappear from this sacred space, allowing us to open to the reality that it is now time to call into Being that which we are fully capable of naming. And as I sit back down, my heart pounding, I continue to hold the space of radical trust, knowing that we have arrived to hear the call.

And she sat down. I was awestruck! Even now, I feel goose bumps from the power of her work. There was silence for quite a while. At last, a voice, Chris Corrigan, spoke:


I noticed from my deep emotional reaction, that this is what I came here for – this is the longing that drives me.

I was riveted. I thought, “yes!” That is what we are birthing. It is what we are being in this moment. We are enlightened community. Other namings happened, some remarkable words from Chaiwat and Carlos, among others. Still, what stays with me most is this nascent presence, bodhisangha.

In retrospect, I realize how fitting that the young woman of our team is the sacred feminine inviting the birth of this new presence.


As we returned to a natural silence, Tree stood to talk about money. While her words were wise, humorous and clear, what I most recall is the calm presence she maintained while guiding us into the heart of the material – money. By the end of the meditation, I believe she had succeeded in carrying us past our stuck places around money to truly being able to sense into money as energy and what made sense in this moment for each of us. I was thrilled for her and thrilled for us.

I have gotten many compliments and kudos for my money talk and I am deeply grateful for each and every one but what I did was completely extraordinary for me. I had never done anything like that before. Oh, I’ve asked people for money but I never stood up in front of ninety powerfully adept human beings and been my whole self out loud without editing anything out. Afterwards, I got bits of feedback like “when you said that, it didn’t work for me”. Well, I can’t do much with that kind of feedback because I don’t remember what I said and if I should ever find myself doing something like this again, I will not be able to integrate such feedback because again I will have to let it emerge right out of me, unedited.

I was able to do the money circle the way I did because I was deeply knitted into the work of holding the collective field. Attending all the evening debriefs was essential. Another essential element was that we had all done some a fantastic job of building the collective field. It was not exactly me doing the money talk. It was the field. I talked to the middle. I felt held as safely and lovingly as I have ever, ever felt.

I noticed towards the end that some quiet chatter was beginning. I asked Tree about it and she said she was done. I instantly got that she had let go of the field and that it was my turn to hold it as we moved towards our closing.

Youth and Elders

Anne Dosher tells Finn that she feels called to share a blessing of her ceremonial rituals with the group, expanding awareness of the greater space that is being held for us. Anne wished to thank and release the spirits that had supported our work. I feel called to connect the youth with the wisdom of tradition. I am honored to invite Anne, a revered elder of this community, into the circle. For me, holding hands with her as youth and elder is a symbolic expression of the full circle of wisdom’s journey. The power of the space comes alive in the medicine wheel ceremony of gratitude, deepening our connection to the unfolding field of life. My being pulses vibrantly with gratitude, grace, love, awe and wonder and I marvel at the journey into which we are walking.

Closing the Gathering

I spoke what was left to be done – a last word, a prayer of closing from Anne Dosher and an Ojibway thank you song from Chris. I heard Charles Terry say that Rick Ingrasi had also offered a song. As I invited people into silence one last time to think of a word or phrase they wished to speak to be complete, I was asking myself how best to handle the choice around the multiple songs that had presented themselves to be sung.

People began to speak their completions simply following around the circle. At some point it started hopping around, and then I started to hear the same voices. My internal sensing was noticing how clarity gets lost as the form shifted from the easy flow around the circle to the random hops. I observed and breathed into it. When repeated voices started speaking, I found myself intervening, asking for anyone who hadn’t yet spoken and wished to do so to speak now. A few new voices spoke. When it felt done, Ashley introduced Anne. Anne spoke a powerful releasing in each direction.

At that point, I offered it to the wisdom of the space to decide what songs needed to be heard. In the silence that ensued, I think John Abbe put on a recording of Imagine with George Bush’s voice. It filled the room with its power. Rick led us in a four part harmony of “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”. Laughter and fun abounded from that.

Finally, people returned to their seats and Chris, with his crystal clear voice, sang us a thank you song, with people joining in by the end.

At about 12:45, we were complete. People said their good byes.

We had done it.

Post Conference Reflections: What had we done?

In my memory of that day, I feel in my body a deep precision, a rhythmic cadence of breath. Time didn’t seem to move fast or slow, it just was. The space felt very intentional. I felt extremely alert and awake. The space around me seemed to echo this precision. The field seemed to have a harmonious hum. I am intrigued and curious about my experience of the whole and the field, wondering how much of it is a projection of my own personal experience and how much is truly a sensing of the whole. From my perspective, we invited and shaped a quality of presence -- A shape shifting from reaching and grasping to embodying and being. Time was cradled in intentional space. Movement and action seemed embedded in attentive awareness, surrendering to deep meaning.

I am still cooking from this work. I believe the experience of staying present to myself, centered in matter and energy for three hours has changed me. I have added a new element (literally) to my morning affirmations. At the last winter gathering of Spirited Work, the warrior name of Standing Still in the Fire came to me. I realize now that standing still in the fire requires the capacity to notice and name what is happening in the moment. Two guide posts for this are clear to me:

• Being centered
• Welcoming disturbance

I think there is something else that enabled me to sustain the state I was in throughout the last day. It has something to do to with being present to matter AND energy (spirit). I think it involves setting context in a way that makes the invisible visible. And it has something to do with the union of the sacred feminine (creating a fertile space) and the sacred masculine (invoking clear intention).

I believe invocation is an act of the sacred masculine. Throughout the conference, people had called for clarity of intention. For whatever reason, every attempt to name our purpose came out diffused. On this last day, I, a woman, brought the sacred masculine clearly into the space. It got me thinking. Did clear intention keep going sideways at the salon have something to do with the masculine finding its right use of power? I think feedback given to both Tom Atlee and Michael Dowd about owning their expertise is an aspect of this. Power has been so abused in our culture that perhaps men knowing how to show up powerfully and appropriately is a skill to be learned. I think because I'm a woman, I don't have the same fears that my use of power will abuse.

I can also see that creating a welcoming space, is the sacred feminine preparing for her work. Perhaps for the first time, I viscerally understood what Juanita means by creating hospitable space as I felt welcomed by Kenoli and Nancy. We were ripe for the invocation to seed something new.

When we were designing, harvesting never felt like the right term. When we landing on “calling into being that which can now be named”, we knew it was right. I don’t think I understood it as a shamanic act of creation until later.

We birthed bodhisangha on Wednesday morning..

The idea isn’t new; we’ve talked about before. What IS new for most us of was a felt sense of enlightened community. I think the mindful way we were together provided a powerful sense of what it is to be a bodhisangha.

In naming it, Chris called forth what was true in the moment, bringing bodhisangha into being both materially and energetically. We birthed something new.

I am still processing my experience of matter and energy. (I see energy and spirit as different names for the same phenomenon.) More than ever, I was attuned to both on Wednesday morning. I could feel the clarity of my words as I spoke them. I could sense the flow of energy through me as I interacted with the group. Everything I did was guided by my intuitive grasp of the energetics. For example, it was clear that we needed to share the outcomes of the breakout sessions, even though rationally, there wasn’t time. Energetically, there was all the time we needed.

Over the years, I have come to deeply trust my intuitive sense of what is called for in the moment. I have huge faith that I am held in a larger, loving whole and that when I act, it is not in isolation but from a felt sense of the stream of which I am a part. Something new surfaced for me on Wednesday. I was able to be present to the visible world of content – words, silence, movement and music, of action and reaction. At the same time, I was in and of the invisible energetic field that I helped to open and hold. I have no language yet for this experience. I just know that I am different. And that whatever is calling me is in service to the whole.

The story continues….

The process of the whole salon that morning was light, serious, sharp... and the energy in the room became more and more intense. In summary, the process was to call into being that which can now be named.

It took a couple of days for me to understand, that this calling into being didn’t stop as the salon came to and end. At an afternoon reflection on the mornings closing session our willingness and understanding of how to be with our differences had importance. I left the meeting for hometravel, with careful eye contact to the three other hosting-team members, knowing that we were not done yet.

The moon accompanied me home to Europe, being right outside my airplane window for the major part of the 10 hours eastbound flight. Once again, I was not looking at the moon – human beings have for hundreds of thousands of years been looking at the moon, wondering. I felt carried home by the caring quality of feminine.

Coming home and exchanging some emails with the team, I noticed a feeling in my chest like being in love. But this was not personal, it was not directed towards anyone in the team, but it had to do with the team. At that point I had the thought: We are still hosting. What came into being that Wednesday morning still needs to be held – and we are the ones that can be mindful about it and act upon it, until others will take over or take part.

And that is still how it is – I think.

This is how I came to express it in a phone meeting of the team one week later:

”What I think I saw Wednesday morning was the birth of a new expression of life, an expression that has been wanting to come into existence for a long time. Now, finally, we are the lucky ones that we get to see this. A new form of life coming into existence, dependent on us. It cannot sustain itself yet. Maybe it will be able to later but as of now it is dependent on us, us being the people who care. I am reminded of The Tibetan prayer wheels, and the importance of keeping the wheels turning. It is not a burden and it is so important. It is even difficult to say this, because there are so many ways it could be misunderstood.”

We share this story, even if it may sound very solemn, in service of upholding and continuing what was given birth to that morning. This was my perspective of the story. What is yours?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To read more about the this story and the Evolutionary Salon, visit Evolutionary Nexus.

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