The Art of Hosting

Hi all!

Just received a posting from a facilitation group that included the “Actor’s Vow”, with the opening:  “In my mind, one of the most powerful gifts a facilitator brings to a group is his/her willingness to be transparent about what they see and feel going on in their group. This, and a willingness to make mistakes with the good intention of helping everyone move forward together. In this spirit I offer you The Actors’ Vow, a short poem passed on to me by my friend and co-facilitator of the Facilitator's Studio, Rachael West. While this vow is meant for actors, it seems to me to be perfectly appropriate for facilitators, leaders, and well, just about anyone with the desire to live life to the fullest.” 

Here it is:

The Actors’ Vow 

I will take my rightful place on the stage
And I will be myself.

I am not a cosmic orphan
I have no reason to be timid.

I will respond as I feel; awkwardly, vulgarly,
But respond.

I will have my throat open.
I will have my heart open.
I will be vulnerable.

I may have anything or everything the world
Has to offer, but the thing
I need most, and want most, is to be myself.

I will admit rejection, admit pain, admit
Shame, admit outrage, admit anything and
Everything that happens to me.

The best and most human parts of me are
Those I have inhabited and hidden from
The world.

I will work on it.
I will raise my voice.
I will be heard. 

Mary Alice

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A nice poem on kindness, via Tenneson and Teresa.

From American / Palestinian poet Naomi Shihab Nye.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and send you out in the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Excerpt from:  What I must tell myself

Watching the geese
Go south I find
Even in silence
And even in stillness
And even in my home
Without a thought
Or a movement
I am part
Of a great migration
That will take me to another place.

And though all the things I love
May pass away and
The great family of things and people
I have made around me
Will see me go,
I feel them living in me
Like a great gathering
Ready to reach a greater home.

When one thing dies all things
Die together, and must live again
In a different way,
When one thing
Is missing everything is missing,
And must be found again
In a new whole
And everything wants to go home
And the geese travelling south
Are like the shadow of my breath
Flying into the darkness
On great heart-beats
To an unknown land where I belong.

This morning they have
Found me,
Full of faith,
Like a blind child,
Nestled in their feathers,
Following the great coast of the wind
To a home I cannot see. 

-- David Whyte

A harvesting of poems from the book "Teaching With Fire".  Teachers select their favourite poems and tell why.



I'm preparing for a small convening this week and searching for a poem to use as a start-point. Sparked my curiosity - what are the favourite poems or quotes you use as start-points or after check-outs? Would love to discover them and add to the harvest on the ning (

With gratitude,
There are tons of books, but this site has the classics…
Hi Amanda.
With awareness that the moment has passed for you, there are two books I use often.
Both are compilations that have the poem, and, the reason why the person who contributed it, did so.
Enjoy peeking around in these. Lots of favorites there for me.

Another little poem shared on the web that I cam across today:

If a sadness 

Rises in front of you,
Larger than any you have ever seen;
If an anxiety, like light and cloud shadows,
Moves over your hands and everything you do.
You must realize that something is happening to you,
That life has not forgotten you,
That it holds you in his hand And will not let you fall.
~ Rilke

Another lovely one:

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Shared on the email list February 2013

AND – here is the poem offered with sarah's permission so you can all see and feel  its full beauty – the web link is at the end

If I Stood There, Could I Stand the Standing?


May I pray at the Step

On which you stood for Aeons?

For Ages

For Moments

For all Time


If I stood there,

Could I stand the Standing?

What would I see?

What would I believe

And know?


To throw forward

A lifeline from the Future

To the Culture

That awaits

The turning of the Tides


Would I have the Courage

To name

What is flowing

From the depths

Of the Centre,


From the Belly of it All

That flows

In formations

To seed and breathe

New Life?


The seeds that ripen

Amongst the grass

And are threshed

In time

When all is seemingly lost


And yet

This is the Birthing

Of the New

The true flow

Rising unabated


Translated Into the Soul-Fullness

Of the actors

The benefactors

That pass on


The Passion

That is

No longer theirs

But theirs

To share


Release the Winged Ones © 2013

Sarah Whiteley

Cross-posting this thread on the ning that also contains some great poems:

Sharing a poem I came across in Mark Nepo's book The Exquisite Risk...

Anyway by Kent Keith

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.  

The good you do today, people will Often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

(some googling shares different versions of this text e.g.

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