On June 30th, 40 "Couragers" (people who have been a part of Courage & Renewal Circles of Trust) celebrated 18 years of Courage work in Vermont. We reflected, connected and rekindled our own and our collective courage. The day was spent in retreat and the evening was spent in celebration ~ bringing together the heart of this work: deep listening and connecting in community.
During the retreat, we reflected on our own courage, based on Shelly Francis's poem, It Takes Courage to..... This is at the heart of her new book, The Courage Way, Leading and Living with Integrity. Through reflecting, sharing, and voicing what it takes courage for each of us to do, we wove a strong web of both community and commitment.
We also honored two individuals who have been a part of growing this work in Vermont since 2000: David Leo-Nyquist and Dell Waterhouse. Both David and Dell were awarded Courage Medallions - "to honor those who claim the courage to live an undivided life." The Medallions were a gift of support from Sandie Merriam, a Courage & Renewal Facilitator from S. Carolina who commissioned them to acknowledge people who are living with integrity.
David Leo-Nyquist was one of the original Courage facilitators in Vermont, alongside Ken Bergstrom, who passed away in 2013. Stories were shared of David's extensive lending library, affection for breakfast meetings, and commitment to showing up for participants in between retreats during times of transition.
Dell Waterhouse has been a regular member of the Vermont Courage Cohort since the first retreat, Courage to Teach. She is known for her warm welcome and consistent care. People shared stories of Dell's embodiment of the Touchstone: Extend and Recieve Welcome. Whenever in doubt or need, people turn to Dell for connection, comfort and inspiration.
In honoring these two members of the Vermont Courage Community, we invite you to reflect on what sparks your courage to live with integrity, agency, authenticity, and courage with your heart broken open?
Here are some reflections from Vermont Couragers on how this work has impacted them:
"Circles of Trust have allowed me to turn towards my heartbreak for the world. Reflecting on this heartbreak, and speaking the words aloud, in Circles of Trust, I am increasingly able to name some of my birthright gifts, my deepest contributions, and my path of service. It feels like the world is pleading for human courage in this breaking time. Courage work has been essential for me as I try to listen and respond to the needs of the world." ~Adam
"During my first two years of Courage, I was in a very difficult situation. Courage work fed me. I wrote during one of the seasonal retreats: If I didn’t speak, I still absorbed support from the retreats. I benefited from the journaling. I gained wisdom from other people’s contributions in small group discussions. I was comforted and taught by the poetry that was introduced. I was especially nurtured by the built-in silence and solitude of the retreats and by the beauty of Rock Point which is now my second home." ~Bev
Applications are being accepted for next year's Vermont Courage Cohort. Are you longing for an undivided life where your inner knowing and your outer engagement in the world are congruent? Consider a Circle of Trust.