About a year ago,I rooted a small hibiscus twig harvested during routine trimming of my long-time tree. Later I potted it, curious to see if hibiscus would grow in miniature. I did not follow bonsai protocol. Just let it push against the edges of its small container. And today it bloomed. A perfect blossom! On a mini-tree barely 8 inches tall.
It strikes me, at this mid-point in my core writing classes at Women Writing for (a) Change – Vermont, that there is something similar going on with the women in the circle. As Parker Palmer writes in The Courage to Teach, learning space must be both bounded (reminding us that our journey has a destination) and open (there are many ways to reach that end). This is one of his six paradoxes to induce creative tension, which sets the stage for greater awareness and effective learning.
At this mid-point in the semester, one of two things tends to happen. Women appreciate the safety created by a carefully crafted container held with attentive intention to its integrity, are settling into it, finding their rhythm and resulting process; OR they quit, complaining of constraint to their creativity.
The reality is: by carefully defining and holding boundaries, we know exactly what to expect. Which frees us to explore, to take risks, to dive deep and know that we will surface still in the safe and structured container we have woven together. Those who resist this structure as stifling tend to be ones who would benefit from an authentic dive into self.
On the WWfaC-VT facebook page, I have posted some of the incredible writings ‘my women’ shared this past week as part of our routine mid-semester reflection. Like the hibiscus blooming in its tight pot, their spirits have taken root and their words are abloom with creativity and growth.