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aconversationI’m awake early today, making lists already for what I need to remember. I’m leaving later today for a week of travel that will place me at three different locations for three important conversations. It begins tomorrow at a reunion celebration with the women who arrived at St. Joseph’s Provincial House fifty years ago seeking to test a vocation to religious life. Some of us found that by God’s miraculous grace we stayed; others left us over the years to find their life’s purpose elsewhere. We will be happy to hear their stories tomorrow as we gather for ritual and sharing of a meal. By tomorrow evening I will be on a plane traveling half-way across the country to meet with other women. Eight of us have been privileged to be together several times over the past two years in prayer and purpose, designing processes for all of our Sisters (nearly 1,000 still) to discern a future that will see us as a smaller number but still strong to serve. Our efforts have been blessed by the participation of hearts and minds willing to jump in and speak to each other about vision, fears and fearlessness as we look ahead to a future that only God can know in the present. The end of my journey will bring me back East to New Hampshire by next weekend for different but just as worthy discussions. We six are the advisors to the trustee of our dear departed friend, Helen, whose gift of her fortune has facilitated the spread of “Wisdom Work” in the past four years to a degree that we could never have imagined. We have eight proposals to consider for the next calendar year, which may be the last. It was Helen’s desire that her money be dispersed within five years and it seems that she judged it correctly! Perhaps we may need to continue (and Helen’s wish was not a command). We won’t know until we sit together – again in prayer and deep conversation – to come to clarity on what projects are in keeping with her intent and vision.

I write all of the above this morning because of the unusual conjunction of events which are all bound together by a foundation of deep and meaningful conversation. I have been struck often lately by the power of that form of communication, seeing that no matter the type of gathering – be it business or pleasure – “success” of any encounter depends on deep listening to and response from all the parties involved. Meg Wheatley has lots to say about that; specifically today I heard the following:

Where can we find the courage to start a good conversation? The answer is found in the word itself. Courage comes from the Old French word for heart (cuer). We develop courage for those things that speak to our heart. Our courage grows for things that affect us deeply, things that open our hearts. Once our heart is engaged, it is easy to be brave. (Turning to One Another, p. 25)

I am eager for the coming week as I know hearts from around this country will be engaged in each of the three events to come. Mine is already anticipating the joy of our presence to one another. I’ll let you know how it goes.