Friday, June 18, 2010

Integral Incubator Day 3.9: Making New Friends

Continued from day 3.5

If the Integral Incubator did nothing else than provide a comfortable work space for 30 fans of Integral from around the world to mingle for a week, it would be a fabulous deal. Even making a dedicated effort at it, I haven't been able to connect with everybody. When I meet someone I vibe with, do I spend more time with them, or keep mingling to discover other nuggets of either commonality or expansion of my interests? I've been trying to do both.

Pleasures of Pearl Street
After the trip to Denver to see Ken Wilber on Day 3, most of us went to Boulder's famous Pearl Street Mall to stroll and dine on a perfect summer evening. Although I started with a plan to join a large group for dinner, circumstances cooked up a better plan: a quiet beer and guacamole with my new friend Victoria Blackwood, followed by a lovely relaxed dinner of tapas and wine with world-renowned developmental expert Susanne Cook Greuter and her charming husband Craig.

Victoria lives in a Maine farmhouse with her new husband, child, and dog Wilber (yes!). On the surface we appear to have little in common--her job after a decade directing hospitality on cruise ships is running the continuing education program for an international maritime academy. Yet her vibe is of someone extremely grounded, competent, engaging, and at-home in the politics of a big organization or the tight quarters of a hierarchical male-run ship. (I don't believe her when she says she's been a bar maid but never a captain). It turns out our common interest is in churches seeking a new model of community. Her father was an Episcopal priest who designed intimate church buildings, and her mother studied theology with luminaries including Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Carl Yung. (Why am I meeting so many cool Episcopalians lately?). Needless to say, dinner among the f'our of us was not boring--especially with Victoria's penchant for breaking into jokes with a heavy Mainer accent. "Ya can't get there from here."

Integral Flamenco and the Mob
No less fascinating was my lunch that day with a fellow who became Christian after the Mob put a contract on him. Barricaded in his house with guns, he saw a sign, "Jesus is Lord," looked in the phone book to find the "Jesus is Lord Church," and ran over to the place where the pastor called out to him on arrival, "The devil's trying to put you in a box, but you'll be safe if you become God's minister." So this fellow started and ran a passionate Pentecostal church until his view of God expanded to a point where his congregation threw him out for someone who still believed in the devil. Today his partner is a raven-haired Colombian artist and spiritual teacher who did a showstopping flamenco-style piece of performance art for us, high black boots stomping and black cape soaring. She teaches that the coming of Christ is the birth of Spirit within us, and once got rival churches in Nicaragua to come together. The two plan to start an Integral coffee house and spiritual center.

And then there's  a young gay man who wants to shift gay culture such that young gays feel encouraged to develop their interiors instead of just their fighting stances in order to better shift the culture around them.

Can you see why I'm trying to spend some time with everyone?

More tomorrow: Day 4

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