Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIC

Poetry & Encounter
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

The Path

“They’re just living their lives.” A wise colleague said this in response to a frustration. Unfortunately, I was the holder of that frustration. Along with the Achilles’ heel of needing to understand things at a too often intense level, there is yet another one; I also hate to be ignored. Let me walk into a restaurant, be ignored, and I’ll walk out never to return. Sorry, it is what it is. During the challenging year in which my colleague spoke this, I was feeling ignored. It was frustration built up from unnecessary expectations I had set for others.

Her comment got my attention, brought me to ground. I was embarrassed by the intensity with which I had succumbed to false expectations; scripts written that had nothing to do with reality. I had strayed from rhythm, the cadence of my own way of being in this work I do. Somehow in my journey, three strengths have evolved and joined together to give me, not only a rhythm in the work, but a model for doing the work: Gather-Give-Grow.

Study has served my life and work. In study, I gather information on the one hand. On the other hand is the need to grow something with what has been gathered. When the hand of gather joins the hand of grow, I then know how to truly give. And giving is done in a steady walk, on the path with purpose.

At the core of life & living is what it means to walk. To participate is to step from life into living. Life is observation. Living is participation. Life is the energy of internal focus. Living is the energy of external focus. Life is the birth of new ideas and creative, intuitive ways of being. Living is the freeing of such energy into a needy world, as we do what is right for us to do along our own path.

The Rhythm of Paradox

There is this,
There is that,
And the two together
I hold.
A tension of life,
A blessing for living.

As I sat in the quiet of an early Wednesday morning, the blessings of life & living were swirling about me. I pray I have had the impact upon others that is spoken in my own statement of Desire & Intent:

That you lovingly lead others to their own authentic confidence; as you embrace the power of who you are, and act on this Trueness.

This is a good and noble thing for me, because the collision of desire and intent were given to me; implanted from the beginning. As such, this is life, given for living. This statement doesn’t define me, it was given for the defining, reality brought to my life & living.

I use the term life & living as a reference to one’s path and to express the flow of internal to external, and open awareness to the path−the middle tension created by the paradox of life and living. For some, energy given to the doing helps develop awareness of being. For some, energy given to being helps develop more conscious application in the doing. It doesn’t matter where one must begin, based on her or his makeup; it only matters when both are held in the blessing of creative tension, rhythm, and flow.

I speak about flow and rhythm as if they are the same thing. They are, and they are not. I speak of flow in the larger sense, that of which we are all a part. I speak of rhythm in a personal manner, that cadence within, given since the beginning, and key to knowing how we join the flow.

Encouraged by the Fitting Together

In my work with individual leaders, I have for years engaged in dialogue about strengths. I include this focus on each person’s strengths because of an external concentration in our work society leveraging varying instruments to show people their strengths. In our corporeal work around leadership development, we assume a focus on strengths is telling the individual something of deep, internal truth about who they are. Rather, we are only pointing to an example of how they show up in the world, not why they show up.

This work in the external can go only so far in being of assistance to true impact. If one only lives actively from external sources, there is no flow, and there is no rhythm. Flow and rhythm are not propositions of either/or, but the holding together of both/and. The fitting together of it all, part of the energy of everything belongs, is part of a reality that is in our midst in this 21st Century.

Personally, if I try to understand this fitting together, I ultimately limit my seeing. But if I simply allow it to encourage me, I stand a much better chance at seeing how it comes together. I must not allow any need to understand, or any other Achilles’ heel, to prevent me from knowing this belonging.

After many years holding the need to understand (a private version of control), I’m learning to release into what it means to contemplate and participate in the unfolding flow; taking a long, loving look at reality. Critical to this learning is remaining connected in the flow with my own rhythm.

The encouragement we need comes from within, as our desire becomes fueled by our voice and joins intention, creating the energy needed for impact.

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Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIB

Poetry & Encounter
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

Graceful Attentiveness

Reality, too, is conflict neutral. You may have heard it said, in response to some situation or another; “It is what it is.” This is often said in resignation, a throwing up of the spiritual hands as one gives up totally, or it can be a simple acceptance of what is, in the moment. A peaceful center can accept reality. It is not giving up or giving in. Rather, it is one’s attention magnified by grace.

In conversation with a friend, Ericka was sharing about our work together, and about what she was learning about herself. Her friend made a statement about a particular personality profile, sharing her type and stating that she and Ericka were just alike. The truth is, Ericka’s profile and her friend’s profile are completely different.

Her friend is more on the introverted side of things, gives great energy to process and detail, and tends more toward perfectionism, doing things in the right way. Ericka is more extraverted, direct, decisive, and clear, driven to get the right things done. The friend sees Ericka similar to herself because of grace; Ericka’s energy focused on this core relationship and loving her friend as she centers the best of who she is.

I can only imagine how this friend looks forward with eagerness to being in Ericka’s graceful presence, their differences coming together and belonging.

The Lie of Expectation

It is quite embarrassing as I think about it, how often I allow some expectation to tell me a lie. I’m not referring to a presupposition imposed from some external source. I’ve become rather skilled at silencing those. More so, I point toward a self-inflicted conjecture that strays from reality.

To pay attention void of grace is to tell oneself a lie.

In the petri dish of falsity, internal violence can develop in the cultures of false expectation, judgment, and comparison. When left too long to culture, and then uncovered, the spoiled combination spreads infected messages that have nothing to do with who one is in reality.

When I launched out on my own in this work that called me, I entered with a piece of expectation-baggage; anyone in this line of work must publish a book, and quickly. So, as I thought authors do, I committed time early in the morning and began to write. This expectation, with its falsity tormenting my thinking, led me through two false starts in attempting to create a manuscript. Later, upon finding my voice and my own writing process, I looked back on what had been written during those mornings. It was useless to what I was then composing in-voice, but quite necessary in getting me to that point.

When I find a wonderful writer, I read a lot of what he or she writes. While I love studying style in these skilled writers, I know I’ve had to find my own way; my own rhythm with pen and page that allows my voice flow in composing. I consequently let go of the goal of being an author and embraced the diligent duty of being a writer.

The Truth of Grace

Recently in my personal journal, I found myself expressing a need to be validated as a writer. At first it was unclear as to the source of this expressed need. Then it was time to write about the lie of expectation. It then occurred to me that I was again allowing some expectation, or set of expectations, to pronounce a wholesale judgment on me as a writer.

Four books later, and this one in progress, my methodology is still evolving and teaching me in the process. It took much practice, pain, and persistence to clear my thinking and free the writer I am. My personal journaling assured me that I am the writer I’m intended to be, and the same practice, pain, and persistence will continue with only the objective of making me better at the craft. I begin most mornings with my journal. Quite often in that time I find myself simply sitting in gratitude. Is gratitude part of grace, or at least a mark of grace? I think so. And grace is much more free to flow the more I can stay on the path with my walk.

If we are not careful, not taking enough guard to refuse false expectation digresses from our path, we allow damaging interruption to the steadiness of our walk. To know everything belongs is to have come to a confident stand, and to know a more secure and steady walk on our own path. It becomes a way of being with reality, of being less distracted by any particular want of a reality other than the one we have. Wanting a reality other than the one in front of us can freeze us in a moment of real need and keep us from doing what is good and right to do in the reality of unique encounter.

Gratitude and grace are marks of a contemplative leader. This leader can confidently stand in the middle, see things without a need to separate and judge, and walk steadily with the staff of reality; blessed by the wonders expressed in the truth of poetry and the experience of encounter.

Grace and gratitude make you stronger. Freedom is nourished by the acknowledgement of specific blessings in your walk. A litany of gratitude helps you remain aware of life & living as good things gather and unfold−and this is grace. The confidence needed for traveling the path is increased by consciously consistent praise for every event and connection.

Unconjectured

Stepping from life into living,
from internal to external,
soul flowing toward others.

Stepping from life into living,
deeply encouraged
by the fitting together,
all things working together
for good, if but allowed.

From expectation to graceful anticipation,
Trueness navigating turn and toil.

Seeing past falsity
and into the soul,
courage grows in each encounter,
holding the paradox of being
human and divine.

Reality clears a path,
a way of being true.

Attention now given,
grace within relationship,
grace within the flow.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part IIA

Poetry & Encounter

I write poems. I try not to think too much about whether or not I’m good at doing so. To me, a poem is simply a response to an encounter, a rhythmic expression waiting for its encounter.

When writing, I quite often pause to wait for a story to tell, opening me further to my own voice in the composing. Sometimes the stories are from my own experience, but mostly they flow from my experience of another. The experience of another is an encounter with the human paradox, the counterintuitive realities that make life & living worth the attention.

An encounter is a confrontation only when one allows it to be.

The paradoxical quality of encounter is that, although unexpected, it is conflict neutral−an unconstrained, holding together of what we as humans have learned to judge as opposites.

Ericka is a caring, focused, intelligent executive. She is capable of quick, creative, and detailed analysis, and can consequently make decisions in short order. However, her voice of Trust is calling her into deeper presence with others for the sake of more meaningful interaction in a space of creative contribution. She desires for others the reward and fulfillment that come with thinking critically in the midst of our encounters with change and challenge. She leads others into a conflict neutral interval between analysis and action. This is Ericka’s due diligence as a leader, her voice flowing.

An encounter is a lesson in reality, and a true paradox. Consider a meeting of two individuals, obviously different from one another. While common cultural observation may have us trained to perceive our differences, failure to recognize differences may be precisely what keeps us from oneness.

I’ve worked with many people who have expressed the desire to collaborate at both deeper and broader levels. What I’ve learned, especially through my own flailing experience, is that we miss true collaboration and unity because we communicate too regularly from our own context; our own set of preferences both internally and externally. Failing to see the differences between myself and the other person keeps me from seeing past each variance and into the individual’s Trueness, and keeps me from bringing my own Trueness more vividly into the reality and beauty of the encounter.

Reality is infinite. Our thinking is too often finite.

Over the last several years my wife and I have been actively simplifying life & living: working from attic down to rid ourselves of things packed away or no longer needed, selling a property, leasing a down-sized space for two years, then buying a similar space closer to our daughter and son-in-law. Well enough into this process I now ask myself what this detachment is all about.

It began with simplification in mind; we have moved in great strides toward this goal. We have let go of many things, and we still have a bit to do to let go of the need for some other things. However, at this point, I am realizing the goal was less about simplification, or even detaching from things, and more about removing what is in the way of knowing Trueness, and knowing the reality of oneness.

Now that we have more freedom, we detach from things to actually learn to detach from any part of self not indicative of Trueness. These parts of us are not necessarily bad per se; they simply are no longer in control. The obstacles to Trueness are never outside of us. We become the barrier by attaching our worth, in any way, to things external to our true self, expecting these things to define us, or even help in marking out the fullness of our reality.

We are not complete as contemplative leaders unless our contemplation is shared. The answer to how it is shared and what sharing looks like is found in compassion, for oneself, and all, as one.

Ericka’s conscious attention is being applied to her encounters for reasons important to her and to those who depend on her. The more she works from her own Trueness the more she draws true contribution from others toward possibility and potential.

The love and care that others deserve, flows through us to them. If Ericka only communicated and acted from her own context, the world would miss out on the beautiful influence of her brand of love. Thankfully, she is giving her attention to her true self, thus freeing energy in leading others into more rewarding participation.

The contemplative leader’s love is real, because love is reality.

Poetry & Encounter:
A cadence of experience, a rhythm of expression formed by graceful attentiveness.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Walk: Part II

Trueness Meets the World

To walk, in a world of paths,
along one’s own path,
a paradox in the making,
of focus and distraction,
choice and decision,
of what’s inside
meeting what’s outside.

Truth, no matter the origin,
pulls one inwardly
into the truth of self,
spirit true, since the beginning.

Truth, doing its work within,
pushes one out, a self
openly evolving, a path
providentially unfolding.

I know I’m privileged to work with many wonderful individuals, and I also know the value reaped from the observations and wisdom of these spirits. From these leaders I often hear about the belief that people, in general and for the most part, do not go into the workplace to do a bad job. Rather, each consciously or unconsciously wishes to operate from their true self, to add value from his/her own way of being, and to serve some larger transformative purpose. Such wise observation is an example of an individual leader’s grasp of Everything Belongs.

Kevin is one of those wonderful, wise individuals. There has been significant change in his organization, thrusting everyone into transition. In a conversation about change and organizational culture, Kevin pointed out that the components of an evolving culture are not linear; the actions to build and maintain a healthy culture must happen simultaneously, working together for good.

And so it is within the flow of Forgive Everything / Everything Belongs / See the Unfolding. It is not necessarily a linear flow. It is a very interactive relationship. However, like many things of both mind and heart, it helps to at least begin by seeing the linear flow, and to then allow it to move toward relationship.

Deep into the work Kevin and I were doing together, we reached the point in my methodology where we compose an objective to tangibly focus Trueness into conscious application and practice. In the session following the creation of his objective, and after time spent reflecting on its flow, Kevin acknowledged its resonance, stating that it represents his rhythm and his true self. As we reviewed the objective together, I pointed out the energy drawn from the three things he wanted from our work; 3 things he had wisely stated in our very first session.

Kevin knows that changes are part and parcel to each transition. He also knows that transitions build one upon another to support transformation, and that collective transformation can only happen when, as individuals, we participate together in a way of being true.

“Being transformative is a constant state, like being a leader.” −Kevin

Now more conscious of his own rhythm, Kevin is focusing his Trueness into the presence of others and their way of being. He has taken accountability to break down his own mental constructs and constraints, stepping into the middle of the flow without any need to separate and divide, further freeing his way of being as a transformational leader. The impact of Kevin’s Trueness, made real by his choices, decisions, and actions, depends on the attention he gives to his relationship with the flow−his own rhythm and the flow of a larger purpose.

We break from reality, and our own Trueness, when we step out of the middle, and the flow, not onto our own path and the walk, but to a divisive, separating position to one side or the other. Kevin may not claim so, but I see him as a contemplative leader. Contemplation and a non-divisive spirit, these make Kevin the transformational leader that he is.

Kevin’s voice of Honesty is his way of paying attention with love; it is his brand of leadership love. It is the energy for his walk and the opening to his poetry and encounter.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wade: Part ID

Contemplation & Flow
To experience something gladly, paying attention with love.

Forgive Everything

The Beginning; I often refer to this phrase of measure, as in, since the beginning, from the beginning, etc. I do this as a matter of encouragement, saying to you that what you most need is already present within. My propensity to encourage is an example of something within me endowed since the beginning. Anytime I include such phraseology, I am referring to the powerful simplicity of present grace.

I want to tell you about my brother. To begin, I share a somewhat incomplete poem, composed on a long walk as I thought about him. It is incomplete in my mind as it relates to its inadequacy in speaking to the reality of this man.

A brother I have,
father and mother
a shared bond.

Deeply I trust,
even deeper I respect
this brother in blood.

Trust and respect I give,
but earned both are.

It’s true, I suppose,
that over time
what you say
and what you do
come together in truth.

A powerful thing it is to say
a wonderful thing it is to claim
I trust your truth.

This attempt of putting words to what I know of this man came in the year after his daughter Molly’s death. Molly was the most courageous person I’ve ever known, and her spirit was bright, loving, and compassionate for all others. And right there in courage with her were her mom and her dad.

In spite of medical prediction, Molly made it beyond her 39th year (she was the longest-living liver transplant recipient at the time of her death). Those years were brutal to her body. When I consider such reality as the perpetual sickness of the entire life of a child, I am sadly amazed at the ease with which we humans give our energy to the insignificant; things in life and work made dreadfully significant by our false belief that we can exert control. Such belief is unreal, because it is formed in the space of false expectation: untruth we too freely allow.

In the last months of our mom’s life, my brother and I worked together around key components of securing credible care for her, most of which fell under his watchful eye, which was a loving duty well beyond just his geographical closeness to her. Being personalities of very different preferences and gifts, we worked well together in the processes required for mom’s care. I have been privileged through the years to be inspired by the grace of my brother’s strength.

It is a graceful privilege to know someone for many years. My brother is four years my senior. We therefore didn’t do a lot of things together growing up. I do remember a lot of front yard wiffle ball games; totally played within his situational rulebook to assure his victory! We were both in our thirties when we became close, spending quality time fishing, allowing us both to find respite from some parts and parcels of reality.

My brother and sister-in-law are, as they say, tough as nails. They have had to be, for the sake of all their children. They have both come to forgive reality. If it were not so I would not see the generosity and love that flow through them. Molly’s love and compassion was learned from her parents as well as gifted to her since the beginning. And she too was tough as nails.

Here is what I know: My brother is true. For this he makes no apology. I am not referring to opinions or any other superfluous view. I know his Trueness. I have seen its steadfastness all my life. His wade through both joy and suffering has washed him onto a path where he contemplatively walks. This is what I know, the grace of this man.

To get to what has been present, within you, since the beginning, it is critical to learn the tenacious call to forgive reality, to forgive everything.

Washed into the Open

The journey of learning,
experientially,
road without end, reality.
To forgive such, necessary
for the sake of flow;
limitless, uninhibited freedom.

Experience is a teacher.
But do we learn?
Rhythm, the acquisition,
the purchase of mastery
with the currency given
since our beginning.

Yet, what do we master?
Surely not others,
probably not ourselves.
The mastery, less about expertise,
more about tireless contemplation;
compassion for oneself,
and all,
as One.

And within contemplative freedom
we learn
to walk
in the cadence
of simplicity and truth,
the reality of our own currency,
our poetry and our love.

Realness, buried under the sediment
of expectation.
Spirit, attentive to the strokes
of Trueness,
sluicing deposits of limitation.
And, stepping
into the stream
of who we really are,
we are washed into the open,
delivered yet again onto
our own path.

–J. Brunson

 

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wade: Part IC

Contemplation & Flow
To experience something gladly, paying attention with love.

Wading into Trueness

Trueness is the deeper context to which this work has led me; a work to which I’ve been led and now find pulling me forward.

One’s journey toward, and with, Trueness begins with the Wade, the choice to participate−even well before we understand all we feel, hear, and see flowing around us. I have come to a place in my life and living where I consider all my efforts to be The Work of Trueness.

I believe that the true self is not lost out there but buried in here. I also believe it is one’s life-long work to uncover and live from this Trueness. Our Trueness is the pearl of great price buried in that field, the ground we purchase by letting go of all that is false and in the way of the flow of our voice, a brand of resonant love uniquely given to us from the beginning.

At the core of the nature of reality is paradox. We are being unrealistic when, in our life and living, we constantly need to separate; to make choices and decisions loosely structured on the lies of dualistic thought. And the most serious flaw at reality’s core is the failure to embrace as One the human and divine. It seems to me that any subsequent refusal to hold any other true paradox is built on this failure.

Do You Hear?

The most important tool in the craft of my work is that of listening. My very Desire & Intent in this work depends on the attention I pay to listening. Listening is the tool, but really hearing another is the skill (art). To allow the two to properly work together, I must get myself out of the way.

I’ve found that most people don’t listen well to themselves, and therefore not hearing profound points of resonance from both inner and outer charges; the impact of desire and intent. Several years ago I fell victim to my own lack of hearing.

I was having an economically challenging year, telling myself a story of betrayal and evaporating value of this work in which I had become so invested. During this time, two dear friends encouraged me to listen to what my clients said to me about our work together, and to really hear in their words the impact for them in the intersection of my own desire and intent.

Providentially timed with this encouragement, I found myself in a conversation with Amy, a wonderful client and supporter of my work through the years. Sensing my walk along the cliff-edge of depression, she lovingly took me to task for not intuitively knowing the value of the work I do, and what I had done for so many. She decided to speak for them.

Speaking to my own gifted rhythm, she said:

  • We learn from you and take this to others, proliferating our mentorship.
  • You teach us how to leverage our relationships.
  • You give us skills to teach the methodology to others in order to improve both individual and organizational impact.

Needless to say, I’ve kept Amy’s words before me in the years since receiving them from her faithful courage. This beautiful, blessed interaction with her helped pull my steps away from a desperate edge and inspirited my walk back into my own cadence. Amy knew my rhythm because she had become conscious of her own rhythm in the experience of being truly heard.

Forgiving Reality

In my book, The Rhythm of Trueness, I share the rhythmic flow gifted to my consciousness through my study of Fr. Richard Rohr’s writing: Forgive Everything / Everything Belongs / See the Unfolding.

It is in the Wade, stepping into life and living freeing oneself from the lies of expectations, where we are struck with the paradox of stillness and flow. In the flow, sudden awareness of things moving together with or without us, we realize the importance of our participation. But to move such realization into active engagement, partaking of the energy available to us, we must let go of the false standards that have so far defined us.

To forgive everything is only possible somewhere in the intersection of forgiving reality and forgiving yourself for the reality created by circumstances, and any set of standards by which you may have been taught and most likely controlled. To forgive reality, as one knows it, is the proclamation of true freedom, and forgiving self is the freedom to be true.

Trueness
Who one is since the beginning is already present, with colors and hues on an original palette, simply waiting to be stroked into present being by the dance and dialogue of artist and canvas.

Participation (Falling in Love with Reality) – Wade: Part IB

Contemplation & Flow
To experience something gladly, paying attention with love.

A Larger Cadence

Writing, in and of itself, for me has become an important form of contemplation; a long and loving look into the matter of my attention. At last, after much practice, I learned the power of the writing process: that it was much more than just producing some content, that there was something calling me into the depths of context, honoring experience, and thus drawing me toward more meaningful participation.

As I remain open to contemplation, what it is and how it manifests in my life and living, I am convinced it flows in diverse incarnations grounded within the reality of who we are. Does how we learn have connection with how contemplation might become part of our stillness and flow? Through experience and experimentation, we each have developed in how we best learn, where, in true learning, we each have found our best methods for simply paying attention.

This, from my experience, I know, if an individual acts from Trueness−living her or his own rhythm−then this person is a leader. Our world so needs this leadership to come alive in each person, as much as possible.

Rhythm and Attention

Whatever contemplative stance I might envision for myself, I know such seeing becomes gracefully clearer as I move closer to my Trueness−deeply honoring the rhythm given to me. In volume five of my work journaling, I asked myself this question; “What is it about rhythm I so desire to teach?”

The deep context of this work I do has led me deeper into my own Trueness. I am recognizing a need to share, more often and ever more deeply, the abundance available through becoming aware of your rhythm, and more consistently choosing in the cadence of such beautiful simplicity and truth.

I teach about rhythm because I want you to know the journey makes sense, as it is traveled, with conscious presence. I teach rhythm so you can be aware, focused, and loving on your journey, and in the larger cadence. I teach rhythm so you may lead in a needy world−leading from the authentic rhythm given you since the beginning. I teach rhythm as a way to teach love−love for your work and love in your work−and how such love is profitable, not a business strategy but a way of living Trueness, embracing the larger cadence of contemplation, poetry, and love.

It takes a measure of confidence to see past the distractions in one’s everyday and focus the energy of Trueness. It seems there are many reasons for a lack of attentiveness in our daily lives, supposed reasons that simply become excuses to not pay attention. If we don’t wade into Trueness, we lose the opportunity for connectedness, with each other and with all things. But stepping into the stream of who we really are we can then begin a loving and conscious flow toward oneness.

“To be true is to flow, and in the flow one experiences both freedom and obstacle. Our own unique rhythm is moved to fullness by the notes and cadences of our own song, and finding harmony in a larger composition.”

–from The World Needs You, Second Contemplation

Reality, what is it? Answering this question could, I’m sure, fill volumes of journaling or books. But for the purposes of falling in love with it, reality is somewhere in the realm of letting go−and in the act of learning to see within the unfolding of it all.

 

And Now …

Important it is
to breathe in grace
each morning,
to feel living grace
as reality.

For into graceful flow entering,
I begin to hear resonance, given me
since the beginning; reminded
that such voice is closer to reality,
the truth of who I am, the pulse
between soul and spirit.

Blessed then, my eyes to see
more clearly in the oneness,
the story of which I am a small part;
a part nonetheless,
and often without even knowing so,
an important part to one …

The threads of reality, seen through
the clear lens of movement, weave
for the one seeing
a depiction of belonging.

In such flow is grace,
blessed connection from
what is, now.

–J. Brunson