Sunday, December 7, 2008

Labyrinthian Pathways at Dialogue Indiana

I had the chance to retreat for a couple of
days last week, Wednesday night through Friday noon, for a workshop called Dialogue Indiana, held at the beautiful Waycross Conference Center in Brown County Indiana. It was a wonderful experience that will stay with me for a long time, both as a memory and as a defining – even transformative – moment.

The workshop was given by communications expert
Joe Williams
, who holds week-long
Dialogue in the Desert seminars in Arizona. LuAnne and Bill Holladay, along with other alums of the Desert seminar, organized the mini-version here at Waycross. I drove out with my friends Kimberly and Pam, joining a group of less than 20 for the retreat.

Our sense of time got a bit distorted, as it tends to do during immersion experiences. Joe kept talking about what we'd do "this week" and joked at the end about how we'd accomplished so much in one week's time that it felt as if the seminar had zipped past in just a couple of days.

This is Joe the Wisdom-Keeper and Guide. He compressed a great many insights, stories, and useful tools into the hours we had together, rigorously working his trademark, trusty flip chart. Because Joe embodies generosity and engagement, we were able to move quickly into the receptive mode necessary for challenging work, with its implications for our professional and personal lives.

Joe uses horses in the desert to teach about body language and "leading from behind."
We didn't have cactus or horses but we did have two grassy labyrinths. We talked about the experience of walking them, both as a metaphor for strategic planning, and as a meditative practice.

One of the participants, Barbara Coffman, gave a presentation in which she described labyrinths as unicursal pathways in and out, unlike mazes (where you encounter dead-ends and roadblocks). LuAnne said they remind her of the fact that you may be working with a group of people in the direction of a common goal, and (just as in the labyrinth) you are suddenly much farther away or much closer to one another than you'd thought – for awhile. You double-back, move in and out again, twisting and turning your way to the heart of the matter. As an individual you are just putting one foot ahead of the other, carrying yourself and all that implies – and no one reaches the center or opening/exit at the same time.

I had a chance to show Joe elenabella and he sent me to his blog, too, so we had a few moments to think about the value of this form of communication. If you go to Joe's webspot, Dialogue, you'll see some beautiful images (such as this one of Saguaro blossoms), and get a feeling for the profound and practical work he helps accomplish.

A nice bit of syncronicity across the globe: I showed Joe how to click over to Amphibious Andromeda, to take a look at the rich images and audio clips there, and we found that Ricardo Bloch had posted a picture of a child making a labyrinth in the gravel with a chair somewhere in France!


Barbara said...

Dialogue partners --

Ellen and I talked -- and I know others had the same conversation -- about how to continue the spirit and benefit of our Dialogue INdiana experience. I am interested in developing friendships and working partnerships.

Ellen has quickly and generously developed a place for us to share on her blog. This is a great tool for gatherings -- of thoughts and of our group. We hope to meet as many of you as possible for lunch -- Thursday, the 11th looks like the best day this coming week. This will be the first of what could be many gatherings, so if you can't make this one, another will surely follow. Hope to see you.


elena said...

I also created a Dialogue Indiana facebook page which works even better for planning and keeping in touch: just search or find it at my page.