Beauty, Silence and Listening

This from Bob Stilger in the Art of Hosting community:

Several days ago, in Montreal, we held a one day workshop using stories from Japan’s disaster area as fuel for a conversation about thrivability in Montreal.

Several things were key to the event’s success.

One was that we brought beauty into the center. As we dipped into design we discovered that beauty holds and nourishes us through crises. It provides an embrace into which we can relax and be held. In our case beauty was explicitly present in two key ways. One was that Michael Jones, a pianist and leadership artist, played his music during each of our transitional times. Michael knows how to play as invitation rather than performance and his music held us in a way that allowed the stories form Japan that a Japanese friend and I spoke it to be fuel rather than overwhelm. The second was we used the beauty of silence to send people outdoors and asked them to return with an object from which we could construct a collective center — this was the opening of our harvest for the day.

In the design of the day, we invited people into their own stories — first the story of why they woke up on a lovely sunday morning and came here rather than somewhere else. Then the story of when they had encountered beauty of the human spirit. And then the story of how they had begun to find their way forward after a crises in their own lives when things fell apart. Only then did we begin to speak in stories from Japan — because now the listening was present for those stories.

It was a lovely day.

I'm preparing for an evening with story this week to help discover the wisdom within for a purpose and visioning process. Bob's words about “the listening being present for the stories” is a good reminder for me to build in some beauty and silence before the storytelling begins.

Thank you Bob for this timely story!

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