5/12/2020

A wee bit more on hope

Will we have a vaccine? When?

When will we feel safe enough to go back into a restaurant?

When will we feel safe enough to go to a concert? To get our hair cut? To hug a friend?

What about the schools. Surely they must reopen in the fall.

Right?

These are all real — and reasonable — questions.

Thing is, we don’t know the answers to them. We don’t. No one does.

This brings me back to hope. Is what we need to hope for these things? Hope the kids can go back to school. Hope we get that vaccine in a year or less. Hope we can hug a friend before having a meal at a restaurant. We can, but what does that do for us?

Nadia Bolz-Weber does a beautiful job of summarizing some of what I’ve been thinking about, which has influenced the last post.

We don’t know the answers to the above questions. We do have a future to move toward. But we need courage to get there.

And sometimes that means the courage to stand in our fear and anger of the situation.

5/11/2020

Some super incomplete thoughts on hope

…[A]lmost no one…is hankering after an evening of lament and trouble, of grief and mystery. There’s too much of that during business hours. Without hope” on the marquee there aren’t many takers.
Stephen Jenkinson, Come of Age p. 20

I’ve been thinking about hope. The above quote, as well as the book it’s from (as well as some of other words uttered by its author) are partly why. Also partly why is because I’ve been noticing more and more how easy it is to slip into the future. It seems that in today’s reality, longing for the future is kind of a collective hobby.

The future is a way out. The future is where we will get our finally’. The future, of course, is something that never really arrives.

Now, I’m not saying that there won’t be a next week’, or that if we put a dentist appointment on our calendar for the 20th of next month it never happens1. Of course not. What I am saying is that projecting change out into the future — as hope does — we set ourselves up for something. I think we set ourselves up for some significant disappointment. As I’m writing this, something else comes up for me: hope is passive. It’s something that happens in the imagination, which makes it, well, not very useful.

I think about the communities among us that have been living in major struggle — struggle those of us in the white middle class know little about. Food and housing insecurity. Fear that leaving the house will mean not coming home in the evening. Fear of the prison and justice’ system. What of these communities? What do they have to hope for? What would hope get them? Not much.

So what can we learn from those folks? What can we learn as we sit back and watch them persevere year after year? Well before the COVID-19 pandemic. What replaces hope? They replace, I think, a one syllable word for a two syllable one: hope for courage. It takes courage to get up every day and live and work in a world that doesn’t seem to care if you live or die. It takes courage to live in a world where you have to, on the regular, fight for your rights.

I remember a colleague of mine telling myself and some other colleagues about a group he was starting to work with. He was struck by how hopeless they seemed. They didn’t want to go on. They saw no reason to; to them, every path led to the same old outcome. He said that his job was to bring them hope. I bristled. I couldn’t think of why. I had no idea what it was in my system that rejected what he was saying, but something did. I think I get it now.

What if, instead of trying to bring them hope, he went to them and said, Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps all is lost. Really, though, there’s only one way to find out. And that’s by taking some steps, together, toward something.” I can see them sitting there, looking at each other, and then looking at him. How the hell do we do that?” they might ask. Fair question, right?

Well,” he would say. You just have to do it. But you need to have the courage to do it. And you need, right now, as you get ready to do it, to commit to giving it your all. You have to have the courage to take the steps — together — and fully live with the outcomes. There’s one other thing, though.”

They stare at him. One of them says, Ok, I’ll bite. What is it?”

You have to have the courage to be changed by your experience.”

This is the crux. Hope doesn’t give us the power to change. Courage does.

Sure, it might end up a shit show. It might end up with the same results. But something else might happen as well — a real shift. There’s really only to find out.


  1. Unless, of course, you are living during a pandemic. Then, yeah.

5/7/2020

Things that invite a slow down, pt. 1

Om Malick posted some photos the other day under the title Unseen is what fuels the imagination. I couldn’t agree more. But I noticed something else in his photos — what I truly like about them1. I noticed that they slow me down.

Seeing images that are shrouded, where there is mystery — which I think is a big driver of imagination — forces one to move more slowly. Think about how you drive in the fog. Well, how you should drive in the fog. The mystery that lies just beyond our sightline tells us to move more slowly. These photos invite me to slow down in my thinking, in my movement. I scrolled slower. I stayed with each photo longer than I generally do.

And perhaps there’s a direct connection to slowing down and the imagination. Can we dream at the spead of information?

I’m not so sure.


  1. Indeed, these are the kinds of photos that I like to take, though mine are no where near as good.

5/2/2020

The Slow Down Project

Something’s coming. I’m not sure what it is, but it feels alive. It’s whispering to me.

I’ve been journaling a lot about slowing down lately. But not just slowing down. Slowing down and interrogating. Bringing forward a very critical eye, and critical thought. As well as an open heart. It’s I. This intersection: where the slow down meets discernment* that something new is being born.

It’s percolating. Let’s see what happens.

*these words are inadequate.

5/1/2020

We made soem new friends today1. Well, I suppose time will tell if that’s the case. I hope so. I liked these new folks that floated into our lives. It’s not super important how they floated in, but they did. We found ourselves in an unstructured, roaming conversation that proved both meanigfiul and energizing. Toward the beginning of the call, an organizing idea emerged through an experience and observation.

One of our new friends had their son in the room with him. It was clear early on that his son wanted to have his attention, making several attempts to gain it. At one point, he turned toward his son and his face lit up with what can only be described as joy and love. Shannon said, I’m loving how you look at your son. Wouldn’t it be nice if team members could look at each other that way?”

We ended up returning to this moment a number of times as the conversation moved on. What if? What if we were as unguarded with one another as he is with his son? What if we were able to care for each other that much? I found myself sharing the idea that perhaps folks who don’t look at their colleagues with as much care as he did with his son also don’t look at their children in that way.

Of course, it’s different, right? And it’s a huge assumption that those who don’t fall in love with colleagues can’t fall in love with their children. It’s not just an assumption, but it’s not even correct. But this isn’t about being correct, or right even. It’s about poitning out something that I think is fundamental: we are emotional, feeling creatures no matter where we are. We don’t have to look at our co-workers the way we look at the children in our lives. But can we recognize the ways we can connect with each other that are beyond the professional?”

This time we live in is asking us to this in some ways. We must show each other some grace as we navigate the emotional landscape we find ourselves in. Some of us don’t have anywhere to do a video conference call that looks professional.” Many don’t have the opportunity to work from home, and may be working with added stress, so they need some more space to do their work. In all of this, we have opportunities to let the whole person in.

I often say that no workplace has a locker at the entrance for each employee to leave their heart, emotions, traumas, overall messy human-ness. Yet, we act as if they all do. We come to work with who we are, and any compartmentalization we make is on the surface at best. Often, it is clear as day that we are compartmentalizing. People can sense it in us. They can see it.

So what if we let go of the idea of pretending that we had to be some other way, and let ourselves care for one another in ways that let more and more of us come to life? With all of the suffering around us right now — including our own, no matter what it looks like — wouldn’t it be nice if we started to wonder if maybe, perhaps it’s possible to experience the kind of joy and live found d on a father’s face at work?


  1. My friend and business partner Shannon is the other part of the we’ here.

4/30/2020

Though the Course May Change Sometimes — #NaPoWriMo Day 30

Course

This land has held, firm, allowing roots
to take hold, feeding. Rotation upon
rotation. Friends lost, companions
felled.

Landscape has changed. Creatures
come and gone. The migrations of
birds, ongoing. Segments arrive.
Shelters.

There are comings and goings. Noise.
Some sit and see, others move too
quickly to notice. What is still here
settles.

This height is what is gained, the
view will be the view. And the skyline
shifts, and the land became owned.
Ungodly.

But the birds make their home here.
And the shade cast can cool the ones
that sit and see. And the wind sways.
Return.

📷 by Melinda Young-Flynn

napowrimo