Saturday evening I had the privilege of facilitating a Department of Hope (DOH) conversation. Our topic was Finding Hope in Turbulent Times. This was a first for me, holding a Department of Hope conversation  in partnership with a group that I’m part of, the Catonsville Cooperative Market. The event was part of the CCM’s ongoing potluck dinner/workshop series.

I’m consistently impressed by what emerges from these “lightly facilitated” DOH conversations. I design a structure meant to provide a safe space for conversation, and to get us started thinking and interacting. Each time, the thinking goes deep, the sharing is heartfelt and a sense of real connection builds. It’s the participants who create the outcomes of the experience.

I don’t have a specific result in mind for these discussions. My goal is to open up thinking and see what emerges through the interactions. From there my thought, though my not my requirement, is that each person leaves with a new or renewed commitment to taken action that strengthens hope in themselves and others.

During this discussion, we spent some time talking about small ‘h’ hope, the hope that is always there, and big ‘H’ hope, those large, societal and global issues that we deeply care about. Some themes emerged as we talked.

One theme that came up is that it makes sense to focus on the small ‘h’ hopes, those things we can immediately influence.  When we each carry our own “grain of sand” as ants in an ant colony do, that might not seem like so much. But when a whole colony of ants cooperates, each contributing the effort involved in moving it’s own small grain of sand, amazing things happen! The inspiration we took from this: our efforts alone may sometimes feel small or futile, but in combination with others’ efforts we can have a powerful impact.

As we continued, another theme emerged. That was the theme of the importance of community and of human connection. We noted that others can strengthen our hope without necessarily intending to, just by offering their genuine selves as they are in contact with us.

As we wrapped up, we came to a hope-building action step. We started talking about organizing similar future conversations, intentionally seeking to involve participants representing diverse belief systems and political orientations. Why? Because both small ‘h’ hope and big ‘H’ hope lies in bridging the divides that have shown themselves so clearly this past year in our nation, communities and families.

I don’t know yet exactly how all this will unfold. I’m looking forward to discovering that!

I’m honored to have been a part of creating this #signofhope!

Photo credit: fabio-rose-262.jpg,