art of hosting, storytime

Just back from 4 days in the embrace of the deep woods surrounding the Whidbey Institute, with Ashley and Chris and Jeff (and when are you going to go public with your blog, dear Sheri?) and more long-time and newly-discovered friends, for the Art of Hosting retreat.

I've got lots of stuff to share about it and will start with this, a reflection that came out of a storytime exercise, when we allowed ourselves to open into imagining our own lives with a mythic view. Here's my story of our time together:

Once upon a time, there was a heart wrapped in light and dark and colors, walking and sleeping in the wide world.

One day, she was invited into a circle of other hearts wrapped in light and dark and colors. She decided to say no thank you to the invitation because she thought that the cost to enter was too great.

Then she learned that some of the other hearts who would be present were hearts who’d already shared with her the memory of being all One Heart. And that reminded her that she already and always had more than enough to afford the cost of joining the circle.

And she changed her “no” to “yes”.

The circle was very bright, and light and dark. With the rhythms of poem and story, laughter and silence, breathing in and breathing out, the hearts began to remember everything, and to move in patterns of curiosity and courage and love.

Lucky hearts! To be held wide by soft-eyed heart defenders, tall deep trees, bird songs, moon and rock. All the languages of the world came in, feeling the welcome to be heard.

The circle of hearts grew such deep roots and such sky-tipped branches that the space in the middle opened its arms in every direction. In such a space the hearts grew ripe – full of seed and sweetness, tender and soft and succulent. Then some of the hearts broke open and the seeds spilled out. The patterns of curiosity and courage and love were very strong, and they caught the seeds and knitted the broken hearts.

Because hearts are like fruit, but they are not fruit.

Hearts can mend, to grow full and ripe and to break open again, and again. Some hearts stay hard all their lives, and some are soft, but they all break some time.

This heart learns in the end, and in the beginning and in the middle, that no cost is too great, to live in space shot through with the jeweled net patterns of curiosity, courage and love.