REconvene: Disrupting Disconnection by Gathering Intentionally

This morning I woke up from a dream state from the most unusual dream.

I guess my mind had been deeply considering something that I was not aware of…I had been dreaming about three elements of quality hospitality: a unique and warm experience, excellent food, and themed décor. It wasn’t my usual symbolic and somewhat complex dreams….

But I always pay attention to what I’m dreaming about, especially when I awaken.

Why was I dreaming about hospitality?

One obvious reason is that it’s the heartbeat of our home and lives.

It’s a core value of our family. If you ask my six and eight year old: “What’s hospitality?” they will respond in sing –song “it’s making someone feel welcome, loved, and comfortable.”

But it took me till this afternoon to understand that I was supposed to open for YOU, my readers : the greater treasure of true hospitality….convening.

To convene means to assemble or gather together.

Gathering thoughtfully and lovingly simply doesn’t happen too often in our nuclear, isolated, workaholic culture.

See if any of these sound familiar….

  • We text while our kids are asking us questions as we nod reflexively, absorbed in another world.
  • Dates with our spouses – if they happen at all – usually involve fighting traffic after a long day, hurriedly eating out, and with only enough time to get back for the babysitter’s curfew.
  • We have thousands of Facebook friends but don’t know our neighbors across the street.
  • We “network,” pumping hands and shuffling business cards, hoping we will “get something” for our efforts.
  • Our work meetings are sterile and hurried, focusing on production and one-way communication.

Though technology has untethered us from our desks, it has allowed us to pack that desk on our backs wherever we go.

Though social media has allowed us to “connect” to more people; it has also caused us to “collect” people, sometimes for status or even profit. The promise of “connection” has often resulted in a glaring, and sometimes selfish DISconnection.

Though a regular attender, we don’t actually KNOW anyone intimately in our groups, churches, and clubs.

Though meetings allow us to gather, they rarely “fill our fuel tanks” – nor would we expect them to at our breakneck pace.

I want to give you some ideas of how hospitality and meaningful gathering can change the ethos of your organization – both your family and your business.

At Restoring Order, we’ve resolved to REconvene….to slow down and gather with thoughtful intention.

What does this look like?

At our monthly staff meetings, our team arrives at our farmstead headquarters to enjoy:

  • A themed meal and uniquely decorated table.
  • A family-style “linner” (it’s an in-between meal; after lunch but before dinner!)
  • A training by our Reclaim Your Health specialists on how we – as a team – can live in health. After all, we cannot pass on to our clients and constituents, what we ourselves don’t first possess!
  • An agenda that includes training, updates, and measurable performance. Yet, our primary focus is not productivity. (And we’re an organizing company!) Our primary focus is people. We acknowledge our team members for the character qualities they’ve displayed that month.
  • Wisdom and best practices swapped back and forth as we compare projects and notes.
  • Stories shared by each one of how – in homes and businesses – each team member is helping people reclaim their household, work, spirit, and health.

After linner, we share coffee and tea and sometimes a sweet treat. I think it says something that your boss knows whether you like your drink with milk or cream, sugar, or just black. We happen to think it matters that someone notices if you’re worn down or need to be celebrated.

Our gatherings are EXPERIENCES that honor one another and create genuine togetherness. And without thinking twice, everyone clears their own plates, stays to clean up, and exchanges hugs and meaningful conversation before going each their own way. A culture of honor begets reciprocal honor.

What we create together by purposefully convening sticks with us for the rest of the month while we are all out in the field serving and loving people. As we build systems for our clients, and solve their problems, we can hear the voices of our teammates cheering us on and sharing wisdom.

Being intentional takes more time and a little more resources than just a traditional “meeting” where training and performance measurement takes place. But it is immeasurably more humane and creates lasting value.

While emails and texts tend to be the necessary daily currency of business, these planned experiences with one another are the deposits that last.

Too often in this fast-paced world, we treat one another as expendable. We unknowingly give the message – to ourselves and others – that they’re just a number. We turn human beings into human doings.

We go so hard and fast, chasing growth, profit, or productivity that we forget the people.

On the altar of convenience we sacrifice convening.

In addition to creating experiences, another way we have purposed to REconvene at Restoring Order is to build multi-purpose gathering spaces at our headquarters Dream Acres. We have two: our barn event center and our office conference room.

Our barn is a large and homey facility with a cedar-chip floor, with wood walls and twinkle lights. Its sliding doors give way to a pastoral field and fire pit and benches. Loving to disrupt the expected, I enjoy pairing top caliber teaching with whimsical touches of country. It’s a delightfully unexpected location for business events and organizing workshops, since folks are used to sterile corporate spaces. At our last event, we served hot quiche upon arrival and hot cookies and milk for a surprise snack. Guests linger as they take in the country setting, the old barn on the hillside, and our garden and orchard. They just bask in the peace of this place.

I believe that REconvening – choosing afresh to gather intentionally –must survey the scene of what is needed, and then intentionally disrupt the destructive habits of this isolated and frantic society.

It takes about 12 hours to set up for even one barn event. And sometimes more depending on what we are hosting. We have to unload it, store the equipment, set up, decorate, plan the food and décor, and set the tone.

We plan ahead. We put thought behind every detail. But that’s what makes every experience memorable! The investment in meaningful convening pays dividends in moments together, increased wisdom and knowledge, boosted morale, and friendships forming.

 


Our other gathering space (besides our farm kitchen!) is the first space you enter upon visiting Restoring Order: our office conference room, so we focus on making it clean and hospitable. We call it “the room of many outfit changes” because of its infinite options for room arrangements. Whether it’s emptied of furniture and set up with workshop tables and chairs or set up for an intimate coaching session with couches and cushions, it’s an event space with the guests in mind.

Gathering well – in our view – is about putting people first. It’s about meeting their needs and making them feel comfortable.

Our mandate at Restoring Order is to restore the original design of people, families, and businesses and help them reclaim their household, work, spirit, health, and wealth. We know that this objective is a distinct challenge in this demanding and overwhelming world. We understand that to achieve this end, we must make coming together in customized ways a priority.

But we can’t do it alone. We have added a Household Manager within the last year to help us extend hospitality and specialized attention to our clients, guests, and event attendees. It only makes sense to put wonderful people behind the aim of serving people!

I hope that in REconvene, you’ve harvested some ideas for disrupting the disconnection in society by being personal, hospitable, and intentional with others. I hope you’ve been inspired to put people above production. The wonderful irony is that when you slow down, honor, and steward, you will increase your yield as a family or a company, because people who are honored will honor others. What you model you will release into the world. And wouldn’t this world be a bit more heavenly if we all really knew and cared for one another along the way?

~Vicki Norris 

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