With summer upon us are you able to take some extra time to pause and reflect? I’ve been spending quite a few warm afternoons lounging on my front porch, watching the arbutus leaves flutter to the ground (they shed year-round), listening to the birds and sipping lemonade.
Although it may look as though I’m doing nothing, in fact I’m thinking, reflecting and planning. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is how to take my coaching work beyond the standard for-profit model. I’ve long wondered about this, and have recently been investigating some online resources that provide inspiring models. I’ll be telling you more about what I’m learning in future issues of the VOICE.
While on the topic of reflection, in our new book review column, IAC member Julia Menard recommends the book Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day. This book, by Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, suggests that each day have “eight seasons” ranging from “prime” (working time) to “laud” (“applaud” – the time for expressing gratefulness) to vespers and completion. I think you’ll enjoy Julia’s summary of the eight seasons of the day.
In Answers from the President I ask Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC to tell us more about all the volunteers who support the IAC’s vision. I was particularly interested to hear about the incredible response that the IAC has had from members who want to volunteer their time and talents. That’s so exciting!
Coaching Moments columnist Janice Hunter is taking this month off for a family holiday to Greece, but rest assured her popular column will be back next month.
Answers from the President Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC
Last month you talked about the people who support the IAC’s vision. Will we get to meet those people?
Yes! Over the next several issues of the VOICE I’ll be introducing our Board of Governors and other committee members who work diligently behind the scenes. The IAC owes its existence to the several people who, over the years, serve, or have served, as our ambassadors.
The IAC has a dedicated and visionary team. You’ll gain insight into the Strategic Planning Committee, which helps determines the IAC’s long term direction. The focus of our strategic plan is on the entire organization, how all the components work together in order to support the overall operations.
Our Communications Team is responsible for aligning our communication with our mission, taking care to keep our message cohesive and concise.
Membership representatives work to keep abreast of what is important for our members. The Volunteer Committee is part of the membership team, which supports the goal of serving members by our members.
Since the launch of our new site last month, we have received a phenomenal number of volunteer interest forms. This is exciting for the organization, as it allows us to expand our reach and stay on the leading edge of what will best serve coaching. And because of the abundance of request forms, we have temporarily disabled our “get involved” page in order to focus our attention on assigning those who’ve responded so far! In a future issue of the VOICE we will announce its return.
Our organization’s strength comes from its contributing members. Thanks to all who have reached out by sending a note of encouragement, or have taken an interest in getting involved on a deeper level, or have spread the word of the IAC to others.
And as always, don’t hesitate to contact us and initiate a conversation.
Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day Written by David Steindl-Rast Reviewed by Julia Menard
In Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day, Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast provides a thoughtful guide to the value of taking reflective pauses during our daily lives. He describes the eight components of a Benedictine monk's day. Here they are:
1) Vigils Vigil means to keep awake – to watch. This is the time of the "night watch." Most monks are up in the dark before dawn to go to oratory. Symbolically, the darkness is "an invitation to trust in night," to trust the mystery present in darkness. It is a time for spiritual pursuit, meditation, prayer, silence, listening to music, lectio divina.
2) Lauds Laud means to praise (applaud!). Lauds is the attitude of gratefulness – symbolized by the breaking of the dawn and our gratefulness for the coming of the light bringing us out of darkness. Lauds can act as a daily reminder to see sunrise as a gift come unbidden – and can help us see everything as a gift.
Since most of us are not up before dawn, it might make sense to wake up and praise (lauds), then carve out even 15 minutes for one's "vigil" devotional time.
3) Prime Prime means first – or beginning time. This is the time when work begins. We pause before we start the work day with "planning" – taking time at the beginning of our work day to "think ahead, to get priorities clear, to give some thought on what matters most." To set our priorities according to our "heart-felt intentions." We can also remind ourselves of how our work contributes to "the whole human enterprise…We are all working together with others whom we will never see."
4) Terce Terce (or tierce) means "third." It is the third hour of the day – a "monastic coffee break." How many of us take a mid-morning break and use it as a time to reflect? Steindel-Rast suggests we make it a "prayer break." He offers one way to pray: by paying attention to our breathe. "Each breathe flows in as a blessing…Blessing is well-wishing… Each breathe out flows out as a sharing of that blessing." There is an art in learning to recognize a blessing when we see one!
5) Sext Sext means six – and this time is reserved for the sixth hour of the day: noon. Steindel-Rast describes this time of the day as a "time of transition, rousing us to stay the course, not be lured by the devil of depression – slipping resolve." Sext is also associated with crisis – where we face a barrier or challenge and need guidance to know what to let go of to be able to make it to the other side. At this lunch-hour time of day, perhaps just before we eat, we can ask: "What can guide me now?"
6) None None is nine: the ninth hour of the day – mid to late afternoon. It is the fading part of the day, the time of decline, when shadows begin to lengthen. The fading of time brings home death and impermanence and the need to connect with something transcendent (beyond time). This perspective helps us connect with is most important. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the limits of our lives (families, jobs) as having meaningful things that happen there. We can use this time to let go of unmet expectations, reminding ourselves to live fully within our lives as they are, as captured by the injunction: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). It is also a time to decide the next steps needed to deal with the essentials. A time to find the end, to bring things to a point where we can leave them as they are and where we need not take them home with us.
7) Vespers Vespers mean evening and this time of the day celebrates the coming of the night. It is a healing time – in the sense that "healing involves knitting together of what is apart or broken." Early evening is also a luxury time, a time for culture in the sense of evening meditation, music or good food. When evening arrives, people have a "universal desire to find a serene place where they can put all the parts of the day together – to let go of the day and luxuriate in the quiet beauty of the evening."
8) Compline Compline means complete. It is the conclusion of the monastic day. Late evening is devoted to preparations for sleep and for reviewing the day that is about to end. It is time to take stock, perhaps by writing a few lines in one's diary about what the day taught us or about what we might still need to consciously let go of from our day (that still binds us to the day). "We confront our inner darkness at Compline by examining our conscience, by asking: "What went wrong today? Where did I fail to meet the challenge? Ask for forgiveness and resolve to do better tomorrow."
As we turn to sleep, Steindl-Rast offers that we can see "God as a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. Infinite darkness is maternal – returning to our spiritual womb to be reborn again the next morning."
Julia Menard, B.A., C.C.R. (Certificate in Conflict Resolution) is a coach based in Victoria, BC. This article is excerpted from HEN, which appears each full moon – because we can see more possibilities in a lunar light. You can subscribe by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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