the myth of the second act

After making a considerable change, am I showing up as myself in this new landscape or am I just sneaking in after intermission?

The idea of becoming someone new is tremendously seductive. The phrase “reinventing yourself” has 2.7 million hits on Google. And to be honest, why not? How much of a mess have we all made with our lives (especially as we reach the Great Middle) and wish we could do it all again, or at least start out on a different path?

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Why Rebel?

Rebels create.

Rebels choose wholeness over division.

Rebels prize the best self over the self created for a transactional and coercive environment.

To be a rebel is to make a choice for wholeness.

I long to hold a space where Hospitality (with a capital H) can cultivate that choice, particularly in the hospitality (lower case h) industry. It’s about bringing something transformational into a transactional context. It grows out of a desire to be our best selves: a wholeness born of all that we are.

FullSizeRender (1)When Hospitality is genuinely cultivated, it must be offered to all. In the hospitality industry, that means that before anyone else, Hospitality is first offered to those who provide goods and services, then to those who consume them.

And here’s the rebel part: the grace of Hospitality is only real when it’s freely offered to everyone. It’s not a transaction or a quid pro quo. As Henri Nouwen wrote, “Hospitality … means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.”

How many times have service providers seemed like enemies to their employers rather than friends? Where is that “free space” and how can we hold it for everyone?

Hospitality seeks to transform destructive relationships out of its pure generosity of spirit. It is not a transaction. It is a grace.

And like all creative forces, Hospitality is a rebel.

IMAGE: Spanish fresco showing pilgrims receiving hospitality on the road to Compostela, 13th century (source: reddit)

Courtney and Parker

cropped-tumblr_static_tumblr_static__640.jpg“Well, I think it’s an act of rebellion to be a whole person, right? It’s an act of rebellion to show up as your whole self, and especially the parts that are complex, that are unfinished, that are vulnerable.” –Courtney Martin, in conversation with Krista Tippett and Parker Palmer for On Being

“Am I being faithful to the needs I see around me, within my reach? And am I being faithful to those points at which my gifts might intersect those needs in some life-giving way?” -Parker Palmer, in the same conversation

Listening to that conversation changed the way I think about my action in this world. I realized that I had to stop trying to forcibly maneuver myself into a place where authenticity would just show up on its own. Instead, I began to practice the real work of showing up as a whole person, right where I am. This site is part of that practice.

While my work is in the hospitality industry (lower case h), my practice of capital H Hospitality is not always second nature. Henri Nouwen defines capital H Hospitality beautifully: “Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”

And that’s my practice today…not trying to change people, but instead offering a space where change can happen: as a leader, as a service industry professional, as a member of a community. I’m the rebel at the door, creating space, cultivating wholeness. We are all rebels at the door when we choose to enter with openness, love and compassion.