The way I choose to put the messages of my life together into a picture is related to all I have ever seen through the eyes of other picture makers and through a constant kind of looking I do myself. What is my own is the constancy of observation of forms and the investigations of ideas and feelings as they combine into the final object to which I sign my name and for which I assume responsibility.*
The path forward is about curiosity, generosity and connection. These are the three foundations of art.**
My reading and journaling today has taken me back to where my dreamwhispering^ began, although I had no idea this is what would emerge at the time.
It’s more than twenty-five years ago I was a presbyter in the Methodist Church wondering about what it was that I did best and should give more time to. I have no recollection of where this thought came from. It was possibly that I’d uncovered a desire to grow and develop, but I am not sure. What I do remember is shaping a list of activities and handing these to people I thought would be honest and critical about what they saw in me.
It was a limited thing because the list only included what I was already doing, but it turned out to be the beginning of something that would grow and grow.
After my own attempt to identify what I did best through the help of others, when I came across some help for identifying people’s gifts, I embraced it both for myself and others. In a voluntary organisation there can be more roles than people. Up until then I had counted a successful meeting as filling as many of these appointments as possible regardless of a person’s abilities, but commitment doesn’t always come with passion, but passion does comes with commitment.
A few years later I was to discover thinking around talents and strengths that was to change my world. It altered the way I see everyone and I began inviting people to explore theirs – I’ve lost count of how many, but perhaps it’s pushing towards a thousand now.
And through each conversation,^^ uncovering the gifts that are in everyone for living towards others, I’ve been learning and developing, both for the sake of others and for myself:
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.*^
Corita Kent’s opening words caught my eye because thinking from many places are part of dreamwhispering – from artists like Joseph Campbell, Scott Peck, Otto Scharmer, brothers Alex and Erwin McManus, Seth Godin, Lewis Hyde, James Carse, enhanced by the imagination and thinking of Maria Popova, Elle Luna, Brené Brown, Ursula Franklin and many more, towards “the final object to which I sign my name and for which I assume responsibility.”
In around two months I will be “asking permission to sit down,” a Methodist euphemism for retirement, and I’ll be given the opportunity to reflect on my work and ministry. I stepped outside of church work five years ago so that I might focus on dreamwhispering, although, looking back, this had been the direction I’d been moving in for some years before this.
Why am I telling you this?
Perhaps I am rehearsing some of what I might be sharing on the 23rd April when I ask permission to “sit down.”^*
But I think it’s really about reconnecting with what matters to me most of all which I hold out as a gift from my life to yours, to help you identify and know and do what you must do.
What I am is a thin silence, a whisper; what you do is the most important thing.
*From Corita Kent and Jan Snowden’s Learning by Heart.
**From Seth Godin’s The Practice.
^Dreamwhispering is my name for the work of listening to what a person’s life is telling them around their values, talents and energies, towards creating a story or narrative they want to develop every day of their lives for the benefit of others. In reality, dreamwhispering is what happens when two people enter into a deep, creative conversation.
^^Conversation is the natural space for dreamwhispering. It is not a programme or course and never will be.
*^From Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.
(^*Dreamwhisperers don’t really retire.)