As part of the harvest team at ALIA, it was my role to try to synthesize today’s experience in a blog post for the ALIA website. Here is that post…

On the OSU campus where ALIA 2011 is being hosted, there are more fireflies than I have ever seen before. They make themselves seen at night when we wander from the fullness of our experience in the organized sessions to the other fullness of experience in our informal gatherings in the dorm (fondly called “ALIA underground”). While we walk, processing the day, they sparkle all around us like a thousand diamonds in the depth of the shadows.

Tonight, after a time of deep listening while our friends from Japan shared their stories of ongoing trauma resulting from the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear leakage, I wandered into the greenspace outside of the student union building, leaned up against grandmother tree (an ancient sycamore that would take 5 people to complete a circle around her), and breathed in the depth of today’s experience. Opening my journal, I tried to synthesize my thoughts of the day. All that would come, though, were tiny spots of light flashing in and out of my mind, like the fireflies flickering in the grass around me.

When I got back to the dorm room, I asked others to share in the synthesis, and what I heard from them were more tiny (but rich) spots of firefly light.

Here are those fireflies:

Today has been a deepening.
Sometimes tiny moments change us – almost imperceptible turnings.
Connecting us with our bodies, and then sensing the other people in our spaces.
The strength and wonder of touch.
There was lightness in the moment of the Brazilian dance flash mob.
We started the day with spontaneous.
This is embodied consciousness.
We offered the stories into the centre of the circle.
Lightness helped us deal with heaviness.
Some of our community left and walked the land and then re-joined the circle.
We serve as witnesses of each other’s body space and witnesses of each other’s stories.
Today we took conversations to a deeper place.
We find each other in the groups.
Seeing ourselves in others and in the social space.
Holding space for our Japanese friends to share stories of trauma & transformation.
We are carrying the stories for each other.
She found a little green man who taught her about having conversations with the earth.
There is a sense of lineage.
When she understood it was not her own, she could reclaim her life.
Trusting each other to hold the group’s best at heart.
Dichotomies. Yin Yang.
We find the conversations we need, and the conversations find us.
A community made a choice to live with a mindset of abundance.
Flashes of collective insight arise from the space.
A flower continues to bloom in a place of disaster.
What I need will be provided.
We are the victims, the supporters, and the perpetrators.
Systems change when real conversations happen.
Moving from hero to host and holding both in our hearts like yin and yang.
After disaster, there arises a clarity of what is meaningful in my life.
She was able to let her body relax after arriving in Columbus.
What I don’t need isn’t worth carrying.
Concern as a young woman exposed to radiation that she may not be able to give birth.
Tears of sorry and of joy listening to the stories, feeling the connection.
Your bravery inspires my own.
The room went past the walls and entered a space all its own.
We are in a massive flow of connectivity.
Trauma can be a gift if you hold it tenderly.
Going to a dark place with our friends and coming back up.
There is space for play even in trauma.
The energy of youth revitalizes the elders, the wisdom of the elders informs the youth.
We are finding new pockets of activism.
Trauma can make us harder or softer.
Music changes us.
Here we are finding a place of trust.

And then, after the thought fireflies had been gathered and the light shared, there emerged a spontaneous musical jam session in our dorm room, each person bringing a gift into the room and offering it to the collective good. Food, wine, music, touch, movement, play, warmth, vulnerability, spontaneity, creativity… community emerged out of our common experience.

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