LIVE Centering Circle March 12, 2021
Coming out of the woods yesterday, I crossed paths with a woman and her dog. Though I didn’t know her, I said hi and she said hello in response. I continued along the snowy path and had made my way about 20 yards/meters before I heard her call to me. I turned towards her and she shouted, “Thank you for saying hello. It means so much to me these days. I try to say hi to everyone I meet on my walks, and you’re the first person who beat me to it in a long time.”
I felt touched by her comment; as an American, I often worry that my habit of saying hello to strangers is a bit too aggressive for my fellow Swedes, especially ones who appreciate silence in the woods. A loud and boisterous greeting in such circumstances can be as intrusive as interrupting someone during meditation or prayer. I do my best to offer greetings gently, and I no longer take it personally when they go unanswered. But her comment made me feel seen and so I called back to thank her for saying so. We held each others’ gaze for a long moment before heading off in opposite directions.
As we approach the one-year mark of isolation and distancing, the exchange reminded me of the power of small acts of kindness – and how challenging it can be to offer them. Even when it costs me very little to extend care I sometimes hold back, telling myself that what I have to offer is insubstantial or even unwelcome. Other times I’m so lost in my own thoughts and miss the opportunity completely. It takes presence of mind to see the opening, and courage to seize it – to extend a greeting to a neighbor, or to send a text to a friend, to start a meeting with a sincere check-in, to slow down and leave space for a deeper exchange. In that sense, extending and receiving hospitality might even be considered an practice of leadership.
I’m currently a facilitator-in-preparation from the Center for Courage & Renewal, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create a more just, compassionate and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. Hospitality – the giving and receiving of welcome – is a core practice the Center’s teachings, both as a leadership practice and as a way to build trust and safety in our communities.
The exchange yesterday left me with a renewed sense of connection and strength. If you’re interested in exploring the theme hospitality and extending and receiving welcome as a leadership practice, please join me for the next Centering Circle on Friday, March 12 from 3-4pm (Central European Time). I’d love to see you there!
About Centering Circles
Centering Circles are live, on-line sessions offering a space to get quiet, reflect, share and hear what’s happening within you and others. By pausing to examine our inner world, we become more able handle complexity, to sustain our energy and to lead with integrity in the outer world – for each other, our families, our organizations and our communities.
Date: Friday, March 12, 2021
Time: 3-4pm Central Europe/CEST, 9-10am Eastern US/Canada, 2-3pm UK/Ireland. Find your local time in Time Converter.
More information or register in advance for this meeting here.
These sessions are informed by the work of the Center for Courage & Renewal, where I am a facilitator-in-preparation. I offer these sessions freely as part of that preparation.
Photo by Ilya Orehov on Unsplash.