The Art of Hosting


In the Engagement Circles and World Cafes I facilitate, a recurring pattern is emerging.  This pattern is a weave of two threads.  The first thread carries with it the desire we have to bring our humanity to our organizations and our work places.  All of it.  Not just the strands that hide behind our quick wits or the ones that slink into the corner hoping to go unnoticed.  But the whole cloth of who we really are.  The whole cloth.  The part that is vibrant, attractive, and willing and the part that is faded, in need of repair, and bleeding its color a bit.  This first thread is just beneath the surface.  Sitting at the edge of the chair.  Welled up behind the dam of pretending to be.  Tears are its witness. And, its truth.   Deep listening is its comfort.  Trust is its reward. 

The second thread carries with it the firm belief that WE have the answers.  The challenges, problems, and opportunities we face, run through US.  WE are a wellspring of creativity ….waiting for the opportunity to be heard.  To be encouraged by leadership to walk the path between chaos and order. A place where it is safe to go for it with all of who we are. 

Listen to Margaret Wheately describe this thread in her forward to The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter: “We actually do know how to solve our problems! We can discover solutions that work! We’ve just been looking in the wrong places—we’ve been looking to experts, or external solutions, or to detailed, empty analyses. And all this time, the wisdom has been waiting for us, waiting for us to enter into meaningful conversations and deeper connections, waiting for us to realize that we can be wise only together.”

And so, these two threads come together to weave a beautiful pattern felt in the center of our Circles and around the tables of our World Cafes. And, it is in this weave that as Toke Moeller says, “The magic of life itself,” is found.  I quote Toke’s phrase frequently because I keep seeing it in the conversational spaces in which I find myself these days.   WE need to remind ourselves that WE are part of “the magic of life itself.”  This “magic” is, to me, the simple self-sustaining natural order of things.  The way a forest regenerates after a fire.  The way a field re-blooms after a flood.

Often, when we come together we forget our natural capacity to create together.  We chop ourselves up into strands of thread that form a collective cloth that is weak and filled with holes. Each time I sit in Circle or Host a World Café, I experience the mending.  I see the strands come together to weave a pattern that expresses the whole cloth of who we are.  A pattern that shows that the solutions and way forward for our organizations and work places live and breathe within US.

I see it in the tears.  I hear it in the new ideas. I feel it as the group begins to speak from its collective heart.  And, it always does.  Why? Because that is the natural order of things.  That is what happens when we live in, “The magic of life itself.”

We look forward to sitting in Circle and around the Café Tables with you on April 22nd.

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