David Sibbet | Relationship
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This Christmas we used a holiday prompt of “the Perfect Gift” for our weekly writing. Here is what emerged. I’d like to share it as a gift to all of you who read my blog.

The Perfect Gift

The perfect gift would be
you simply smiling, and melting
from feeling my sadness.

The perfect gift would be
you letting me hold you
crying, lost in the dark,
cracking open a secret
that has held you in irons.

The perfect gift would be
my not sharing from my own
chest of woes, simply caring.

The perfect gift would be
a full day of just saying yes
to whatever arises, and to
end that day in your arms
murmuring amidst shuddering.

The perfect gift would be
having my children let me
walk them down the aisle
of happiness, and to let this
happiness bloom in the
damp soil of my regrets.

The perfect gift would be
the surprise of finally learning
to savor silence, simply smiling.

My weekly poetry writing is influencing my prose. Here is what might be called a prose poem. It arose from a prompt that is its title.

LEANING IN

“It’s about trusting. Just lean in, stay connected to your partner,” the leader instructed. She was facilitating a trust activity where partners stand opposite, hands joined in an arc over open space. “Move back slowly and lean in. Go as far as you can.”

I know we will fall. We’ve passed the point of having control and balance. Only the strength of connection keeps us up, and the leaning in.

But my muse doesn’t have such steady hands. When she appears it’s a feeling in my chest, or fascination with some little figurine on my desk. And if I lean in too quickly. the feeling disappears. I fall into thinking. I fall into trying.

When my partner comes to the table with upset in her eyes, masked by comments about the weather or what she wants to eat, can I trust my seeing, and lean into the edges of something I cannot yet see? And when the conversation turns to feelings of being discounted and dismissed, can I stay leaning into listening, just listening, and just feeling the weight and push of it for a while?

There is a certain thrill that comes when the leaning in spans a long reach, well beyond what is possible alone, when the listening tiptoes past my pain and defensiveness and begins to soften the edges of a brittle heart. Breath in pain. Breath out compassion. Tonglen—taking and sending as leaning in. Staying connected beyond one’s own stability.

In the exercise we collapse on the floor laughing when we go too far. “Okay do it again; focus on your connection; move back slowly, together. You will go farther this time.”

Can I lean in without a facilitator? Can I lean into my own faint callings? Can I laugh when I fall on the floor of my unknowing?  It’s about trusting, I know, this leaning in, and listening, and feeling the leaning come back my way.

Perhaps a steady leaning in can be strong enough for dancing.

David Sibbet. 10-26-21

bobdentonI like to think of my life as a tapestry, with all the threads from people who have influenced me woven together with my own abilities and interests. One of the strongest threads is from my godfather, Dr. Robert Denton, or Dr. Bob as people in Bishop, California called him. He died October 28 at age 95. I gave this tribute at his memorial Saturday, November 18, 2017.


“I met Bob Denton at age four when his wife Betty along with other leaders of the First Presbyterian Church in Bishop asked my father, Laing Sibbet, to be their pastor. Dad was fresh from seminary in San Anselmo and a pastor in the Two Rock Presbyterian Church near Petaluma. Bob and Betty took it upon themselves to introduce Dad and our whole family to the East Side—fishing, hunting, its people, and its culture of independence and resilience in the high desert.

Our families were very close, and I learned from Bob what it meant to be an adult man in service to a community. His influence has been a warp thread in my weaving—the long threads on the loom that hold the others as the years create their patterns.

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As summer heats up, I’m thinking ahead to the fall and Leading as Sacred Practice (LASP), the week-long conference that Gisela Wendling, Alan Briskin, Holger Scholz and I will be facilitating this October 23-27 (2017) at IONS’ Earthrise Retreat Center in Petaluma, California. Last year’s gathering in Germany was exceptional and some are coming back a second time, so I’m looking forward with anticipation. But it’s taken on some new meaning and urgency.stringofbeads

I began to feel strained several weeks ago supporting the launch of The Grove’s Global Learning & Exchange Network (GLEN) while simultaneously starting a year-long Leading Change Program in Minnesota for a cohort of 20 participants from several agencies in the Metropolitan Council. This last program ended with an inspiring “stringing-of-the-beads”; more on that later.

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