What happens when what you are called into host is not actually what you’ve been called into host and every thing you think you know or have to offer of value is not what is needed? When knowledge and experience of methods, processes, theories and frameworks, though asked for, is not what will actually serve the situation or community you are hosting?
These questions, alive and vibrant, were lived into this past week in Membertou, a First Nations Community in Nova Scotia, that a team of us had been invited to, as part of an emerging leadership program for youth, to offer a three day Art of Hosting and Warrior of the Heart training. We were invited by Pawa Haiyupis from the National Centre for First Nations Governance and a team at Membertou to contribute to a program Pawa has been envisioning for 10 years, since attending her first Open Space Technology session. We were to work with youth, elders and members of the Governance Committee.
When the Canadian Government cut funding to the NCFNG in the middle of the four week emerging leadership program the plan was thrown into chaos and the shape of our time together shifted frequently and rapidly. Would there even be an AoH/WoH training and, if so, how many days and with whom? Financial and energetic support was invited from a circle of eagles from around the world and from the larger Art of Hosting community to fund expenses and to be at our backs as we hosted this work, the hosting team clearly called to be in it no matter the circumstance.
The hosting team – Bob Wing, Pawa, Sarah MacLaren, Ryan, myself and one other – convened on the beach at Mira Gut to begin our check-in in ceremony and with a little Warrior of the Heart. Sense of spirit was strong with us and blood memories were being activated. We asked for guidance from Creator in this work.
We did all the usual preparation for a training, including cracking our overall design and the design for day one.
Then we entered day one. We knew as soon as we entered the space that we needed to be prepared to let go of much of what we planned as we waited the arrival of elders to begin our time together with a pipe ceremony. The pipe ceremony was beautiful and powerful, inviting spirit and Creator to guide our path. It had the full attention of everyone in the room no matter their age.
We followed it with Warrior of the Heart and, yes, a teaching on the chaordic path and some time in triad conversations. In this day, we became aware of some disruptions in the field. At the end of this day, we met with the full hosting and calling team and explored what people were sensing and what their concerns were. We did a little teaching on divergence and convergence for this team. We invited all questions and all concerns and also celebrated a little bit the successes of the day. We left feeling a bit of convergence in this team and a willingness to be open to what wanted to happen the next day.
Dinner with an elder showed us that what wanted to happen the next day was ceremony and, specifically a sacred fire. We all knew it was the right thing and in that moment the hosting team stopped designing process and shifted the most completely and fully I have ever experienced into hosting what wanted and needed to happen in this field and this community. It wasn’t process, methods, frameworks. It was ceremony. Ceremony in service of this community, hosted by the elders. Ceremony to activate blood memories. We trusted we would know in the moments following ceremony what else could be offered that would serve the community and the intention of this work well and we knew absolutely we were working with the principles of spaciousness and simplicity.
Host team check-ins are always an integral part of any Art of Hosting training and usually serve the design process. In some ways, they became the design process. Deep check in. Clearing and understanding our field. Strong pull to meditation and other ceremony morning and night to keep intention and presence clear and strong.
We know we were hosted in ceremony by this beautiful community. We know we also hosted, but exactly what is a little less clear. We know something happened in this community that would not have happened if we had not been there. We know something happened in us – individually and collectively – that would not have happened if we had not been there.
I find myself in contemplation of ceremony and the guidance of Creator. I find myself in a deeper exploration of the non-physical world and the allowing of my gifts to emerge and flourish with new knowing and fuller surrender to what wants to be guided through me. In the letting go of expectations and any need to show “expertise” in this group and this community, I know we were more fully available in the co-hosting and co-creating of the space. Sometimes simply being allows things to emerge that might not otherwise. I am wondering how that informs all my hosting work and feel the invitation to work more and more from this place of surrender, trust and “just” holding space.
As Pawa said, “the teachings are still percolating and the brew smells delicious. More to report on as the teachings are digested.”
A deep bow to the community, the team and the field that held us so well in this journey.