Seeking the Center
I’m sitting on a hollow log in a small clearing in the brush surrounding the Lama Foundation in New Mexico. I’m about halfway through my solo, the Year 2 experience that invites each participant to spend some concentrated alone time in personal reflection. I’ve finally run out of ways to occupy myself – journaling, drawing, reading – and begin to simply observe the incredible mountain vista before me. As my gaze flits from the newly-green trees growing back from a recent fire to the never-ending blue sky to the teeming insect life whose clearing I share, an idea comes to me with striking clarity: in this moment, this particular place where I perch is the very center of the world. Everything else orbits around me as I sit, completely grounded and utterly humbled.
Almost exactly four years later, I am back at Lama. This time I am an intern, helping guide other students through the experience that was so transformative for me. I consider the circle of students before me in the Dome, amazed by their curiosity and insight. Exploring religious pluralism has become crucial to my own practice of leadership, and leading this discussion on religious diversity has allowed me to share my own ideas and to open myself to the new thoughts that arise from students’ reflections. As the discussion concludes, I feel once again deeply centered – not in a specific place this time but in my role as facilitator and in my engagement with this topic.
My journey with GYLI has taught me much about trust. It takes a great deal of trust in oneself to recognize these moments of centeredness, to follow up on the feeling of being in exactly the right place at the right time. In the years since my GYLI experience, I have encountered several more moments of complete engagement and fulfillment, and they have felt strangely familiar. It is in seeking such moments and in trusting that they hold meaning for me that I have found my stride as a leader. We lead most effectively when we find those places and causes that inspire and invigorate us; for me, GYLI has been instrumental in helping me seek that center.
— Angela Butel (2013)