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Ripples Upon Ripples

Belonging to one another seeds an uncontrollable joy…

...which of course means an intimacy that sears as well as heals, grief abounding and overwhelming abundance. David Schnarch comes back to mind: intimacy is not for the faint of heart.

Elders worth their mettle awaken in public, ripples of which I have been tending this morning. Writing helps me tend ME.

“Awakening in public” is a phrase I’ve long used in my interreligious-companionship journey: living wholeheartedly while learning vulnerably amidst entire communities of people. In my context(s) back then, I found myself in deeply, spiritually-intimate companionships with a transdenominational/Conservative Jew, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, a Tibetan Buddhist (Kagyu-Nyingma lineages), earth-centered spirituality sisters, and more. I was an identifiable Christian clergywoman/professor who was vulnerably awakening to a sacred she knew and did not know. It was searing and nourishing, deeply wounding, even more deeply healing.

‘Awakening in Public’ contrasts with much of how leadership is ‘traditioned’ today, where the messy bits are attemptedly hidden-while-never-hidden away. In reality, the most grounded leaders–by which I mean rooted in a sacred flow beyond themselves or any ego-oriented institutions–are willing to awaken to their shadow sides--unhealed wounds and unclaimed giftedness both--visibly, in their "public." They commit to living their whole hearts in the public of their community(ies), birthing and being born again and again.

It’s the public bit that drops the stone into what I will call beautiful waters.

Most leadership communities today feel the ripples of leadership learnings with fracture and divide, projecting discomforts and grief outwardly or simmering the griefs quietly, in isolation. Here I’m thinking of ecclesial communities–churches of various flavors–or academic ones–seminaries and/or higher ed settings.

Fire&Water is not “most leadership communities.”

Grown-ass leaders tend to their own grief, committing to learning, curiosity, and courage. If I dare to say “we”... we trust the container-community is receiving precisely what it needs next to grow…the leaders who (will always) belong to one another and the collective, as a whole.

Notes to Myself on the journey, then:

  • Receive the ripples, and let the sadnesses of unknowing, uncertainty come, just as I’ve been taught. Ripples come because the belonging is real.

  • Honor the heartache alongside the smile of inevitability. The circles that are the strongest always receive the next learnings with a flashfire, urgency and surprise.

  • Watch my need for story, letting the stories of others be fully their own without me (in some sense).

  • Trust all I meet to do their own work, be doing their own work. Keep confidences and sacred boundaries for the Good.

  • Our reactivities matter, but can still be held at healthy distance while we belong.

In the end, true belonging is never performative and it doesn’t depend upon any one or two of us. It belongs to us all, as we do to one another.

I do wish (spiritual) maturity didn’t hurt so badly, or require so much courage.

I want joy to be only the abundance of belonging.

But with frustratingly unanswerable ‘why’s’, divine-human JOY always seems to seed in painfully plowed ground.


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