I received a beautiful letter from one of our neighbors here in Still Forming land in response to last week's letter. In it, she affirmed from her own experience the four verbs of transformation I shared with you last week.
If you didn't get a chance to listen to the letter (which you can still do here) or need a bit of a refresher, the four verbs of transformation are:
Janis, our Land of Welcome neighbor, gave me permission to share a portion of her letter with you. She wrote:
"I have been through a journey this past year of learning to tell the truth and explore what that means for me and being able to share it with someone who will listen. It is truly wonderful to be part of a community where you can share the things of your heart without feeling judged and actually feel affirmed. ... This whole year has been a time of growth, stretching, searching, truth-telling, exploring, sharing, and listening. I have been more vulnerable and open than I have ever been before. It has truly humbled and stretched me beyond what I never thought possible. I am still in this process, as we all are. I am finally feeling that I can start moving forward in my life."
Isn't this wonderful to hear? It made my heart fill with gladness.
The process of transformation is messy and scary, yes, and we never know quite where we'll end up on the other side of it, but the experience of sharing it in the company of others — of being seen and heard and held with presence — can make all the difference in our process. It can help us keep going.
Today, I'd like to share with you another piece of my process of working on the Land of Welcome book. It's a piece that has helped me see just how important it is for this land to exist — both for those entering into the very beginning stages of the transformation process and for those of us who crossed that threshold some time ago but want to live in this land because of the values we've claimed (or which have claimed us!) along the way.
This story connects to the word play deck I also talked about in last week's audio letter (which, again, you can find and listen to here).
The word play deck is made up of 32 cards I created, each of which contains a word that reflects the spirit of our Land of Welcome in some way. Seven of the cards hold the core values we've been discussing the last few months:
But concerning the remaining 25 cards in the deck, I got curious. How might they connect to these seven core values? What associations might I find if I held each remaining card up against each core value? How might those associations teach me even more about this Land of Welcome we're inhabiting here?
So I crafted a little mind map template for myself in Microsoft Word to play with those questions. Each mini mind map had a circle in the center for the particular word in the deck I was playing with, and seven rectangular boxes fanned out from the center circle.
I made 25 copies of this mini mind map and wrote the seven core values in the seven rectangular boxes on each one. Then I pulled a card from the deck, wrote it in the center circle of the mind map, and wrote a little note next to each rectangular box that voiced the connection I saw between the word and the related core value.
This exercise led to some pretty beautiful discoveries.
For instance, here's what happened when I played with the word explore in connection with our seven core values:
- Welcoming: "I am willing to explore what is being presented to me as invitation."
- Kind: "I will be kind and gracious to myself in the process."
- Reflective: "I will take the time to reflect on these things."
- Honest: "I will tell the truth about my experience and what I discover."
- Open: "I am opening myself to this process and whatever may lie ahead."
- Brave: "I am a brave explorer."
- Tender: "This will be hard, so I will be tender with myself."
I'm not sure if it's readily evident to you, but in my mind, these notes seem to be spoken by someone just entering the transformation process. If you find yourself in this place or have been through it before, can you see yourself speaking these words?
I found this possibility really beautiful.
Then, when I played with the word hope, I was even more moved with conviction that our Land of Welcome needs to exist. Here's what happened when hope was held up against each of our core values:
- Welcoming: "I'll enter in because I have hope to find life here."
- Kind: "I can believe in people again because of your kindness."
- Reflective: "You help me see the silver linings."
- Honest: "You help me believe my truth isn't dangerous or harmful."
- Open: (Channeling Emily Dickinson) "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all."
- Brave: "Because of the hope you all offer me, I can gather the courage to keep saying yes."
- Tender: "My hope is tenuous, but that's OK."
These quotes, in my mind, are spoken yet again by someone in the scary beginning stages of truth-telling and exploring who, based on their experience of the Land of Welcome, finds the courage to keep saying yes and to keep going.
Think about that: People will gather courage and gain hope because our land exists. Isn't that incredible? I'm so humbled and amazed.
Wherever you are in the process of transformation, dear neighbor — whether you're just beginning the process for the very first time, discovering yourself looping back for yet another layer of growth and refinement in your journey, or simply holding presence and valuing the graces and gifts this land offers to all of us — I welcome you.
I am so glad you're here.