Archive for January, 2007

Gathering some little clues…

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

In the Art of Hosting community more and more attention goes to the Art of Harvesting. In email exchanges these last few days I saw some good, useful stuff and some challenging questions.

A beautiful, nice and simple presentation was made by Cris Corrigan for one of his clients, but it can be inspiring for all of us: What else could harvest be?

Last week I sent out an invitation for a follow-up day from the last Art of Hosting training in Belgium. I stated my own learning as: “How to design a gathering like this that will feed into the next step, in the best possible way?” I really don’t have a clue, it is on the edge of knowing and not-knowing…

Simone answered with some more questions: “There are a few questions about harvesting, with which I have been sitting many years now: Can the harvest become something that just naturally emerges from a gathering? If yes how? How can harvesting the outcome of a gathering become a natural, joyful and creative task? …

Hilde Vandormael responded: “Isn’t it so, that the harvesting is there, all the time, as we are witnesses of our lives? How to become aware?”

Also for the workshop Women Moving the Edge, early March, we are confronted with this question. How to design this gathering not only for the days we are actually together but also for afterwards? What is the harvest that we want? What format will serve our purpose best? How to integrate harvest on the spot?

Last a little harvest jewell by Lenore Mewton :
“Harvesting is reaping the simple elegance and wisdom of our souls and hearts—- leading to inspired action.

A new story of magic

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Under the chaos there is something beautiful cooking.” Silas

There seems to be magic at work in Kufunda that attracts people like a strong magnet and what made a lot happening in a short period of time. Many buildings arose: a classroom, two dormitories, a dining room and kitchen, a library, an office and many houses and compost toilets. All this in an area surrounded by poverty and in a country where prices have doubled each month lately. However, the magic is bigger than the physical alone! We can see and name some of its elements but magic is and always stays: magic!

It seems to me that underneath this magic is the belief that life is good and abundant. This belief in ‘the capitals’ – in what is inside us and all around us – translates in many forms. It is an appreciative way of looking at life itself.

What I see in these young people and what I hear from the stories is the deep practice of personal development. Learning by own choice; going from one job to another; the easy flow of learning in one field and teaching in another: all opportunities for becoming, for growing into full potential. The collective tools of meditation, sitting in circle, World Café and Open Space are practiced again and again. They are used in every meeting, for every topic you can think of.

The practices of individual and collective hosting, the processes of learning bring them to a place of love. Conflicts and ‘bad’ stuff are not avoided, but taken into the circle with lots of courage and balanced with love. Love and sharing is promoted and there is a deep equality all over the palace that bridges cultures, ages and levels of education.

Community – relationships – interconnections
The diversity we meet is not at random but it is invited in. It keeps this living system vibrant with life. Relationships are build with four rural and one urban community, with many organizations and individuals in Zimbabwe and beyond.

Magic for the future
Kufunda and some other learning centers seem to create a new pathway for humanity. A pathway that doesn’t believe in poverty, but in sharing and in peace; a pathway of the heart, a pathway of old wisdom connected with new technologies, a pathway of individual and collective practice and learning. As all pathways newly formed, they only get visible and attractive when practiced a lot.
If humanity is one, if the morfogenetic fields are at work, then more magic is to come!

A deeper tradition gets born where the wholeness of everything can be seen.” Phil Cass

Hosting yourself

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

I found this beautiful quote from Anne Stadler, which speaks about the hosting of our self.

“In my view, the first place one ‘hosts’ is the Divine essence within, so you can BE the gift you came into the world to give!!! Hosting (i.e.: welcoming!) whatever comes into your field IS the daily practice, including finding out what THAT means to you, where it has shown up in your life history, in your many lives, etc, and releasing yourself from your attachment to that story.  Disturbance of the status quo is always a portal for the new learning you are being offered.  See Rumi’s poem The Guest House!!!  It is the “text” for this observation.

Unless hosting begins ‘at home’ in one’s heart/soul, one cannot truly host (i.e.: serve the evolution of all as you Self-evolve) in the world.  So the process of ‘hosting’ is always an inner/outer process.” (email Jan.’07)

Leaving Kufunda

Monday, January 15th, 2007

What made me cry the first moment I stepped in the garden of Mama Knuth (the landlady of Kufunda)?
What makes me cry now that I leave Kufunda Learning Village, right in the middle of a team day?

Last week, just arrived after a 20-hour trip, I cried for re-connecting with the bedrock of humanity. My body re-members, as it re-membered the ancient rhythm of the traditional, ceremonial mbira songs.

Now I cry for leaving these young, courageous women and men who live the ideas and principles of Life, in its enormity, difficulties and challenges. I and we in the West can learn a lot from them. It feels almost overwhelming, the experiences and the learnings…

These young Kufundees (people committed to the Kufunda community) do what I have always looked for: applying – here and now – all good individual and collective practices for body, mind and spirit; for people and the land; for their own community and beyond.

The plane is now leaving Harare and dark clouds are gathered. I see rain pouring down somewhere further away, and I do hope that rain will nurture the little personal gardens around the houses or huts and the communal garden in the middle of the village. It is the rain season, but in the eight days I was here I hardly saw more than a shower of a few minutes. Global warming and climate change is affecting us all…

Harvest of this Art of Hosting

Monday, January 15th, 2007

What was emerging in this Art of Hosting?
What is emerging for the future?

In the debrief of this workshop by our diverse hosting team (in age, in culture and different parts of the world) we came to see some patterns that will nurture the future of the hosting trainings. First of all, because it is very close to my heart, we see that the hosting ourselves, or the ‘be present’ became more in the centre of the training. Every day there were two opportunities to train for individual practice, Aikido or meditation. ‘Hosting yourself and others’ was the theme of our second day. As presencing exercise participants were asked to walk the circle – in silence – which was very intense and meaningful. It invited everybody to show themselves in an authentic way and becoming comfortable in a circle of human beings. Toke called it: weaving humanity back into the field. Because of this little training we saw a lot of new hosts walking the circle in confidence, whether for opening space or for the opening or closing of the day.

Another point of the new design was that there was a teaching about the Chaordic Path on the first day, as part of the theme of the day: What is this? This created a safe environment, a good container, for all participants as they understood that being in chaos and feeling uncertain was part of the path to go. It was a collective meaning making and became part of the language for everyone.

What we see afterwards is that the stories of the eight little helpers, combined with the Kufunda story and later the teaching on the five breaths, combined with the story of the Health Care Systems in Columbus, Ohio – even if they are about large scale change, which can be very far from the actual day-to-day experience of some participants – actually it gave a story of hope! One of the participants said: “This gives me hope for my country!”

The Flow Game was used on the last day as a converging tool, which worked out in a good way. Participants had a safe environment and some focused time for their own, personal question. This was a good preparation to make the bridge to their own situation in life.

We saw a very strong closing of the three days where there was first a longer poem, then the invitation for everyone to write a little, reflective poem and then to sign up for commitments we are going to take in the future. The speaking out of some of these commitments in front of the whole group was a very powerful ending.

In our collective looking back we came to see that there is, within the Art of Hosting, the Art of Design and the Art of Harvesting. In an open space session we saw that harvesting is actually about reflecting back the process, the learning or change that happened; and not about what was said or done. The use of metaphors, pictures, poems, important quotes and testimonies is a good way of making a creative presentation instead of a dry report. What is needed in the future is probably that in the preparation both a facilitation and a harvesting team is set. They can both invite apprentices to train on the spot.

In our hosting team we see that in the future the Art of Hosting can become a 5-day training – or even longer – with more time for individual practice and good, explicit teachings. Maybe it becomes the Art of Hosting Life, or the Art of being hosted by Life; as we see within ourselves and within the Kufunda community here that all areas of life need to be included if we use Art of Hosting as an operating system for meaningful communities.

As a last point we see that a follow-up gathering or the start of Art of Hosting Practitioners Circles can or will be the next level of the Art of Hosting training(s).

Closing circle of the AoH

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Breath in, breath out.
Breath in, breath out.

A poem written and read by Tichaono Murungweni, known as Ticha

It’s never too old to learn, or too old to turn
Don’t just spend time, invest it
Worry is like a rocking chair
It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere

It’s good to follow the teacher who follows the master teacher
The harder you work at what you should be
The less you’ll try to hide what you are
Dull minds cannot see sharp corners

The heart sees further than the head
Dare to dream with Peace
Very happy we are what we are, not looking back
Armed we are ready to journey on into the world

Let everything happen to you
Sweet or bitter
Journey on with love, joy and peace
No feeling is final
Stupid is the guy who put seed in the ground and never dared to care for them

Then the invitation to all to make our own little poem….
Some examples…

give to
all (including myself)
powerful questions wrapped in
irresistible gift paper.

am ready
to dive into
the waters of fellowship.
Are you?

stand still,
offering my breath
and voice. Future is

into now-ness
has giving birth
to the future in
the present.

the heat steeped granite
I dare dream a peaceful harvest.

a thing
this present moment
from where I offer common-unity
and gratitude.

The Invitation
Can we go on
this journey together?
I now understand myself.

The short story of Kufunda

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Marianne shared today the story of Kufunda, related with a teaching on the little helpers of Art of Hosting

The Call
Kufunda started 5 years ago in Mondoro, on my birthday where I invited friends from all over the world for a week to celebrate life. We spent a night in … and it was incredible. In the morning, the chief made a speech and belittled all what the community had given to all my friends. He couldn’t see how transformative was what they had given us. That was for me the call, the need that was here.
Being present
It was clear, I had to come home (from Denmark back to Zimbabwe) and on a meditation retreat it came to me; I couldn’t make it up in my head. Tuning into what Life is asking of me…
Find my mates
I went home and talked to Fedi, my mother, friends and family and we sensed that something was needed: something about communities, but what?
Listening and conversation
We went on a journey: What have the communities here to offer to the rest of Zimbabwe? To our surprise, they didn’t understand, they didn’t even hear the question, instead they asked for help!
Harvest something of value
The process of Kufunda has been about appreciative what was/is already there, in the individual and in the communities.
Make a wise decision
We learned to work with communities and not just individuals, because that had a bigger impact. We want to invite, especially women, to find their mates and do something real.
Dare to dream
And now we are in the phase of entering: Dare to dream (bigger).
Now is the next level of dreaming and listening for a bigger call, that can be hosted by the community and not only by me.

Art of Hosting at Kufunda; Zimbabwe

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Wednesday morning started an Art of Hosting in Kufunda. What a diversity of people! Old and young, African and European and American; from rural villages and from the city; with high education and with only a little bit…

I enjoy very much being here and live on the rhythm of Life itself and not on the rhythm of our ideas.

Rather – or really – new in this Art of Hosting is that we don’t follow a linear path form self, team to community, but that besides experiencing the tools – which we did on the first day – we give lots of time and attention to being present. Every morning and in the late afternoon there is scheduled time for Aikido or meditation.

Today the guiding question is:
What is my hosting?
How do I host myself; and others?
What does it mean to be present? (‘Be present’ is one of the 8 little helpers for the Art of Hosting, see next posting)

After an introduction to what being present can mean on the mental, emotional and physical level, we went into a silent, walking exercise – one by one – before the group; with the invitation to go one step beyond our comfort zone. From this powerful experience we were sent out – still in silence – to be present with nature and learn to the teaching we can find there. We then gathered in silence in the big circle again and who wanted to share was invited to do so.

This was so powerful!
Imaging a circle of more or less 35 people, sitting silently, one of them gets up, takes the talking stone and speaks these words while walking around the circle…

Spoken by Silas

Your eyes reflect my inner being.
The step I have taken translate my inner heart.
The heart that interconnect with my body and soul.
My body tells a story of
fear to walk the Chaordic path
a story that celebrates the opportunities of more conversations, actions, creativity and space for actions embedded in the open space
a story of conflict resolution listening from the heart
and refinishing systems and processes found within the circle.
a story of appreciating the positive history so that the future will be built upon it, the Appreciative Inquiry wants us to do
a story told by the World Café of focusing on what matters and connect to deeper patterns emerging. Everyone who is present, represents deep passion about the question in the centre.
Only if the question matters and appeals to me, should I host myself and my community. This is a story of asking Powerful Questions
Hear me and do it from the heart. Give me your eye and listen from the heart’s eye that sees things as they are.
My story is about being in the practice so that I strike the balance.
I will walk the Chaordic path
If my practice is real
If I host my self
I cannot be you but me
That’s when I shine.

Spoken by Obert

So much I thought I could change but it is not a question of changing things. It is a question of understanding myself. It is in listening and giving your time freely so as to understanding myself better. Whatever I imagine is the best way.
The lesson I had expected to learn was not to be, until I start experiencing something new. And that something new is understanding myself, and then the person next to me. Suddenly I discovered that understanding myself is a little bit more intricate.
Deeper Life. Soul Searching.
Whoever named this the Art of Hosting had not thought that is was heart-touching, but it is the Art of Understanding my Heart and sharing it with others. Understanding that resolves more chaos on my path than order. As much as I want to help, assist, solve, provide, there is more chaos within me.
I’m not going to say things, but I’m challenged as the emotions flow in me. How to look at your own very self and give a time picture of your own self?
I was contemplating on expectations I had and I discovered that that expectation was wrong. It is my heart ‘s desire that this type of training goes beyond Kufunda village. Because when you think you understand the next person …. no, you don’t…. understand yourself first! It has a type of impact that made me to rethink my weaknesses and my strength. I’m capable of being sincere within the elements of myself.
It is my heart’s desire for a Deeper Life Soul Searching experience to continue for the community I come from.
When you suspend judgment, still there have to be judgment. But I’ve just discovered that I have a Self to content with.
That Self has been touched.
Spoken by Bernard

I want to be in the circle again. This is the world in my hands (our talking stone is a crystal world) and – for a while – I feel empowered. I know you are all looking at me, but I can only acknowledge you one at a time. If I would ask a question, I could have answers … now I know how to ask questions, how to connect.
When you speak in a group everybody is focused on what you have to say… I never enjoyed speaking in a group … I would rather go away …. The best thing I found now is myself.
I asked myself so many important questions and gave myself the answers.

I didn’t think of hosting myself!

I’m able to face the world and speak my mind, without fear. Now I know it is OK to speak. This is what it has done to me: feel free and don’t worry about what others think.

I’m ready to face the world because I face myself.

More questions in Africa

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

How do we ever balance what we – Europe – took from Africa?

How can I balance that in my own, little way?

Is it really respectful to bring second hand stuff over here?

Is sharing my knowledge and wisdom the best thing to give?

Questions in Africa

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

On the buses of Johannesburg airport: “Coming or going?”
On the shirts of the employees of Equity Aviation: “Who will you be?”

Am I coming? Coming back to the roots of humanity, the red earth and the bright sun?

Am I going? Going to learn about being a spirited, learning community? Shall I be able to translate what I will experience here back to Belgium, Europe, the people in the West? What can I learn? What can I bring? What will be a fair exchange?

I arrived today in Kufunda, Learning Village in Zimbabwe to live and work here for little more than a week. Who will I be in ten days? I hope and expect to be more whole, with more parts of myself integrated again. And with new questions to go home…