Creating Safe Space-The time is now!
Today I begin anew and launch an initiative that is very close to my heart, giving meaning to a journey that began long ago When I was ten years old I was riding my bike around my neighborhood. I suppose using today's terminology, I was a free-range kid. I remember it as a special kind of wonderful; to feel that kind of freedom, riding along, wind in my face, not a care in the world. A feeling of independence, that is until supper time, when I had better be home or face the consequence of having my two-wheeled freedom ride taken away.
But on that early Spring day my life would forever be changed. I was riding a wooded route, it was my favorite. I loved to be among the trees, always fascinated by the way the sunlight would stream in, finding it's way through twisted branches and quaking leaves to be captured by the creek, where the water sparkled and danced in it's presence. It was a typical afternoon ride until to my surprise I saw something I had never seen before and I hit my brake. There was a man, without a home, living right there in the woods, in my woods.
This was not something that anyone, certainly not a ten year old girl, living in a suburban neighborhood in 1970 would have dreamed of. He looked a bit worn, bearded, long hair pulled back, with jeans that were ripped at one knee and a greenish jacket. After a moment I realized he had also noticed me and I felt ashamed to be staring, he hadn't invited me into his woodland home. But when our eyes met, his face, which had at first looked concerned, softened and he smiled. He seemed friendly enough and so I walked my bike closer and we began to chat. His name was Hank. I was truly amazed by him and must have asked one hundred questions that day. Hank patiently answered every one. I returned to see him often over the next several months. He was my first experiential teacher, explaining how he built a shelter, found edibles and water to survive. I thought he was the smartest person I had ever met and looked forward to our conversations as he spoke to me with respect, never treating me as a child. One day, I went to see Hank, and was heartbroken to see that he had moved on. His shelter disassembled, the campfire swept clear, with the exception of one rock. Under that rock was a note, thanking me for treating him with dignity, not being afraid to know him, and for creating safe space. Space that he was hoping to bring with him as he traveled to see his family. He said, if he could befriend a ten year old stranger, perhaps he could be with his family, and he was going to try. My chance meeting with Hank opened a pathway for learning and living, impacting my education, career choice, and my search for understanding the value of Creating Safe Space. Space that provides holistic well-being: Physical, Emotional, Relational and Spiritual. Many years later a colleague of mine observed a closing circle I was facilitating for a group of professionals who were completing a five week experience, one that was profoundly uplifting and at the same time challenging. As we were departing my observant colleague asked me to sit and have a cup of coffee with her. As we sat together she said, "You know you must do something with that." I asked, "With what?" She responded, "Creating Safe Space." Life has a way of surprising us. The road is never smooth, filled with detours and potholes. But sometimes we are fortunate and receive a message, one that whispers directly to our soul, if we are listening. I have held this gift of Safe Space, one given to me long ago by a homeless man named Hank. And on this day I honor him, by asking that you join me on the next leg of this journey. My work going forward will support my belief that Creating Safe Space is foundational to achieving Human Potential and Well-Being. It is my hope that through my work as Retreat Facilitator, Experiential Educator, Mentor and Coach that I can begin a conversation that wholistically supports Creating Safe Space as a cornerstone for building Intentional Communities of Practice. My work will focus on engaging individuals and leaders who believe, as I do, that there is life-giving value in Creating Safe Space. And the time to begin is now.