The Art of Hosting

from email exchanges, summer 2017:

Toke Paludan Møller a href="" target="_blank">> wrote:

On the Art of stewarding.

Friends, these are my reflections today on the 2. August 2017 - on The art of Stewarding , as 3 practitioner mates recently have recently asked me about “becoming” a Steward…….

Being a steward or not, is not so much the focus for me, rather to live in the exploration of the art of stewarding something I practice and care enough about to stay conscious, in on going practice and in service of the deeper qualities and essence, that is the life of that practice.

For me it is a verb not a title, so to say - :)

We each begin to know when that awareness begin to surface, to be real - and others stewarding humans will notice too. 

It is a beautiful, gradual and natural process of becoming more human, awake and feeling life & love flow in you more freely.

I welcome you to the joy, companionship and responsibility of stewarding this art and practice - and to care for and protect Life in all it forms.


Here a wee poem from 2009 that expresses my deep feeling about this:

This love is 
indeed stewarding us all 
and all there is 
- I have no doubt in that
To learn how to be stewarding
as I am being stewarded by life
is a gift of great proportion
I hear my heart singing to me
 in this moment 
So much space is there
 in that knowing of the reality of love 
as this life web of love weaves us
 into being alive for a wee while,
to meet others in companionship 
to be healed 
to come back to zero and enter ONE
- to know and to let go into
 a trust in trust
To know truly that this sweet kindness
 is our core 
- one and all
what a gift to be able to offer good work
 from such heart 
in service of this quality
that words can not ever reach
bowing from my center
to your center
I am in happiness
once again.
- toke 2009


When you step up and in to this space and next level of learning about yourself, Life and the art of hosting and harvesting conversations and work that matter, you will know - and be seen by other mates -  in you seeking depth, simplicity, courage, humility, kindness and clarity.

- and more good can happen in the service of peaceful coexistence and well being for All on our beautiful and troubled planet Earth.


Here is the harvest of the first Art of hosting on Art of hosting gathering in 2005 for you inspiration - we where 12 of us at the Tim’s and Katie’s learning center in Nova Scotia, called the Shire

Here is a folder in dropbox for you to see….


in the folder is these 3 documents so far….

* The story so far from 1996 /7 - 2005….

* Our clarity on the Chaordic clarity of the Art of hosting:

* and the art of stewarding - both still holds true to me:


May it inspire you and bring clarity, joy and strength to your life and Work for our world, however you chose to do it.

I would appreciate to hear others reflection in this circle…..

With love and respect


I really have only a little to add to this.  The clarity that arose at the Shire in 2005 has only been reinforced for me over the years.  Every time I think about the practice and responsibility of stewarding the Art of Hosting community I return to Toke’s observations on this.  
That is not to say that what we are doing collectively doesn’t change over time - it does. But the role of a steward is to have the long view, to witness and notice how the changes are either inspiring and creating the community or how they detract from it. And the role of protecting something is important.  
I can’t exactly say what that something is, but I notice more and more that as people make offerings that pull the Art of Hosting away from it’s simple clarity, I can help protect the generative centre by asking questions that help us to see if their inquiry is rooted in what we have been doing or is outside of what we have been doing.  It is not any one person’s job to decide what is in and what is out, but collectively we entertain and explore the fuzzy boundaries while protecting the powerful generative and empty centre of our work - empty because it is no one’s to own, and generative because our deepest questions have come from there from the collective intelligence and curiosity of stewarding practitioners who have been at it collectively for thousands of years now. 
You are venturing into the kind of mystical territory of stewardship, not the conversation we have every day with everyone.  But it’s how I understand my responsibilities.
Thank you, Toke, for responding with this clarity and historic perspective.  I took the time today to read (re-read?) the story from Maria of that first steward gathering and I felt a sense of gratitude for the consciousness and care that was apparent.  I suspect that the current Art of Hosting community that we have today would not exist had less conscious, more egoic or more fear-based responses emerged from that conversation.  It fills me with awe and gratitude to recognize the wisdom and consciousness that has held this field by so many different people over the years.  This, to me, is stewardship and a challenge to live into such a pattern in my stewarding.  Yes, after years of resisting and questioning, I am ready to fully accept that I am stewarding and to practice embodying this.  
I wonder what it means that this question is arising so frequently right now.  Just this week, I heard of a person who is anxious to attend his first AoH training and wants to know how he can become a steward.  In recent months, I have had several conversations about what it means to steward and especially what it means to steward the emergence of hosting work in a geographic region.  Every day, I feel like I am confronted by my lack of knowledge and skill and challenged to continue my practices in the quest to learn how to steward.  Stewarding can be lonely work, in my experience, and I am constantly appreciative of the field that is holding this work and holding me in it.  I wonder how we might be more intentional and conscious in sharing the struggles and learnings of stewardship.  To be in the unknowing and the trembling of working beyond the clarity of established patterns and structures while listening for the wisdom of the deeper patterns and to do all of this out of love for the wisdom and the sustaining presence of those patterns - this feels to me like the experience of stewarding.  I suppose that it is just the next level of learning and of service that becomes obvious and unavoidable when the time is right and always just beyond the grasp when it is the object of one's desire.  My question for any aspiring steward would by 'why do you want this?  what do you imagine would become possible if you were recognized as a steward?'.  In my experience, I discovered that I was stewarding and that people recognized me as a steward when I was just doing the work that needed to be done without thought for the title or role.  What is it in our field that has made this designation something to be desired or sought after?  Or is this a contamination of our field by the allure of status and hierarchy from the current popular culture?  
I welcome more conversation about this as it feels very important for our field and for the world.  I don't know that we need more stewards but it sure feels like this world needs more stewarding if we understand this to mean the protection and care for what one loves.  For those of us who find ourselves in this work, do others sense the need for collective learning about how we steward well?
with gratitude,
Steve and others…
I truly don’t know why someone who has just discovered Art of Hosting would “want” to become a steward.  The pay is terrible, and there are no benefits!  :-)
It also not some kind of advanced designation. You either become really good at hosting within the art of hosting world, or you become really good at something else. But you only become good through years of practice and failure.
I know over the years that there have been ideas and thoughts about some orderly step to becoming a steward, but I just can’t see this happening. The journey is different for everyone. And yes I know that leaves unresolved shadow questions about “well, if there is no clear way to become a steward, does that mean that only those who are already stewards are exerting some kind of hidden power?” I actually welcome this question and I welcome the fact that the answer is both yes and no, and that it will always require a conversation. Neither the question of orderly stewardship, not the shadowy things are every going away. And so that makes it a worthy question to host, with maybe a bit of fear and trembling, but also with courage and love. For always.  And that IS in fact something that stewards can and do do.
But as a father I was reflecting today on how one knows that one has become a steward.  The metaphor that best fits me today is that it is obvious when your child is born that you become a biological parent. But there is another thing that begins to happen, and that is you start to become a father.  Not every male parent becomes a father. And how do you know you have moved from just being a biological parent to being a father?  
That is a question each of us has to answer for ourselves.  And I can also say that it is even possible to become a father without being a biological parent. I think of someone like Juanita Brown or Christina Baldwin or Anne Linnea who, although they might not describe describe themselves as Art of Hosting practitioners, would surely accept the title of mothers to our practice, and in Juanita’s case especially, even feeling that role of stewardship for our community of practice. And I would not dispute her feeling that way.  
It’s a mighty complicated question, with no straight answer ever in sight. And so, let’s keep hosting it, together, for as long as we are a part of this global community of grace.

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