Posted on Sunday, January 9, 2011 in Courage
The other day in a hotel ballroom I led a leadership seminar on courage for the 100 top managers from a regional medical center. The center is part of a hospital chain with a mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. In the late morning, I presented my “Poetry Table” experience as a way for each manager to find clarity on a leadership challenge.
After I finished my session, just before lunch, I went to sit in the back of the room. A participant came to the front to offer a blessing. She said “since we have been doing fluffy things like poetry this morning I would like to offer a reading.”
I thought to myself — poetry is a form of prayer. The psalms are a form of poetry. Are the psalms fluffy? Is prayer fluffy? She never would have said that. Yet it was okay for her to say poetry is fluffy, a derogatory term.
Now I know this has more to do with her mental model about poetry than anything else, and, maybe, her fear about reading in front of the group.
And yet, it is sad that poetry is given so little regard in our culture, even at a spiritually-inspired institution which holds other values than those of the bottom line.
Her comment is symptomatic of a larger issue. We are uncomfortable being vulnerable. We are uncomfortable with an essential part of our humanity. We have bought the message wearing our hearts on our sleeves is weak and wrong.
Better to be detached, cool, business-like, and ironic, divorced from what is in our hearts, and what deeply matters to us?
Better to plod toward the grave numbed?