“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour…Don’t Go Outside Yourself for the Leader.” Thomas Banyanca, Hopi Elder, Oraibi, Arizona
A Creative Response for America in a Chaotic Time
By Bill Kelly, America’s Soul Cafe Hosting Team Member, Guest Blogger
This is a time when familiar institutions, ways of thinking, and habits no longer seem to work very well. In such a chaotic world, we need a creative response toward building a new future that starts with each of us and our conversations together.
This is where America’s Soul Café plays a vital role.
In a safe environment informed by deep listening, we take on the important questions about our nation’s future and our role in creating that future.
Virginia Swain, the founder of America’s Soul Café, was in New York City on 9/11/01 and had a dream that evening in which a Phoenix rose out of the ashes of Ground Zero. The Phoenix was America’s soul and offered a message of hope to Americans who were being invited to heal themselves, soul by soul. She saw the soul as our spiritual and moral essence that we had failed to cultivate and nourish. But we could initiate a spiritual renaissance to take us beyond individual and group egoism and overcome the fear and mistrust that kept us separate and isolated from each other and from the rest of the world. After contemplating this dream for many years, Virginia created America’s Soul Café as a vehicle for people to pool their wisdom and realize the hope for transformation and regeneration symbolized by the Phoenix.
America’s Soul Cafe is a perfect place to discuss the “Soul” of America. What is the Soul of America? A good definition is in The Preamble of our Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
A National Conversation called America’s Soul Café
National renewal starts with us as we think and learn together and come up with the insights that will enable us to move forward. Through such conversations we gain clarity and discover our place in this great adventure toward a sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful nation. We can take comfort in knowing that on so many occasions the breakthroughs that have changed our country for the better started with just these types of conversations among small groups of people.
America’s Soul Cafe gives us a setting in which we can find our own unique way to bring about the future that our hearts desire.
America’s Soul Café is based on the World Café which has began over 20 years ago. We share the same goals with them. The main difference being that our focus is on the United States. However, we do inquire into the nature of America’s relation to the rest of the world and the ways in which it can contribute to the global commons.
The America’s Soul Café Community engages people in deep dialogue, reflection and collaboration to
reduce fear, blame, projection,
division, racism, oppression
increase love, inquiry, trust, respect, humility, inclusiveness & connectedness
foster a just and sustainable America as a partner on the world stage.
What happens during America’s Soul Café?
Virginia Swain has been trained as a World Café facilitator and we follow the World Café methodology. In our online monthly encounters, we use Zoom technology. After welcoming and introducing everyone, we explain the etiquette that governs our meetings and provide a brief account of the philosophy and history of America’s Soul Cafes. Then we break out into small groups–usually with three or four participants each. In this setting, participants take up the question or questions that have been prepared by the hosting team on America’s soul and our role to become part of the Phoenix, the rebirth of America. When we come back to the full group, we share our experiences and insights and create an image that best expresses our understanding.
America’s Soul Café participants then create a timeline and action plan after the image is conceptualized. Imaging plays a key role in our work, since we can’t reconcile a challenge unless we can see it in our mind’s eye. Through the Cafés, participants are invited to offer their soul gifts to the Phoenix as a symbol of America’s soul and as a metaphor for their commitment to heal America.
Eileen Beckett has attended several Cafes and offered these comments:
“America’s Soul Cafe is a safe place where we can talk and listen to one another. We gain insights to carry our knowledge to listen better to our neighbors and colleagues. Somehow by participating in the Cafe for just 2 hours a month, I feel that I am a better person working toward better solutions for the Soul of America. I hope I have the courage not to be silent.”
Lisa Stiller was at our Cafés in 2017. She wrote us:
“This was an amazing experience! I felt so connected to everyone so quickly! There was a very deep level of safety and trust built in at the start. The questions and discussion were open enough to allow for wide interpretation, and there was such genuine affirmation for our contributions. Also the teaching component and resources provided were extremely helpful. Thank you to all of you. Looking forward to the next one!”
America’s Soul Cafe Hosting Team: Eileen Beckett, Kim Crowley, Robert Kauffman, Bill Kelly, Virginia Swain and Chet Warzynski
To read an earlier blog about the importance of Thomas and the Hopi Prophecy to Virginia’s story go to http://virginiaswain.com/outward-silence-inner-stillness
Learn the schedule of monthly Saturdays from 12-2 Eastern time and and RSVP to the free online America’s Soul Cafes at VirginiaSwain.com/upcoming-events
Join our Facebook America’s Soul Café Community here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1878680615709181/
America’s Soul Café is A Case Study of the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation to Develop Political Will and the Global Mediation and Reconciliation Service. For more, go to global-leader.org
Participate in our success on our gofundme page: Virginia Swain for America’s Soul here https://www.gofundme.com/HealingSoulUSA