Well it appears the space race is back up and running…at least among a few billionaires. My wondering is how much space have these folks made for others.
One of the most important questions I learned from an influential mentor early on was, “Who is not at the table?” A simple question with profound impact that has shaped my work and even my personal life for decades. The reality is most of us tend to gravitate to those who share or affirm our perspective and opinions. The danger of course in this type of homogeneous functioning is that we tend to become myopic.
Through the years I have learned that when space is intentionally created for others a deeper and broader perspective is manifested. One of the great lessons I learned from working with Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was his regular reminder in a meeting, “You have to always remind yourself that your reality is not necessarily others’ reality.”
Along the way my intentional thinking about my role in creating space has evolved into three different wonderings:
• Who do we need to create space for so that we are getting the richness of other individuals’ experience and world view?
• Is it a good time for the organization that I to move to a different place at the table in order to provide space for someone else to function in the role I presently serve?
• Is it time for me to leave this space so that there is room for others to join?
One of my favorite poems is Fire, by friend and colleague Judy Brown. Generally the poem is read with an eye toward the importance of creating space in our lives. A few years ago I began reading it through the lens of making space for others and in doing so creating greater capacity to grow and thrive.
“What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would.
So building fires requires attention to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and absence of the fuel together, that make fire possible.
We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way.”