At the Earth and Spirit Center, our staff and board just concluded a new strategic planning process that provides an exciting, actionable vision for growing our programs in meditation, compassionate social justice, and Earth care, our retreats and summer camps, and our emerging mindful leadership work with non-profit and for-profit organizations.
Being a driven, type-A personality, I have a tendency to get pretty fanatical about strategic plans – just ask the rest of the ESC staff! Plans and goals are certainly essential for a multi-faceted, impactful organization like the Earth & Spirit Center: they help keep us focused, effective, and accountable. But of course there are at least two problems with being plan-driven. Sometimes your plans run roughshod over reality – such as ignoring the people and needs that present themselves but that don’t fit neatly into the plan. And sometimes reality runs roughshod over your plans – as we learned when COVID-19 disrupted pretty much everything. Either way, holding onto the plans too tightly causes some sort of damage.
I’m starting to play with a new approach to making and following plans, which is informed by my reading in evolutionary cosmology and spirituality: What if we went from being future-driven to being future-drawn? In other words, what if – instead of treating the future as something we charge toward by making a battering ram out of our goals and plans – we imagine that the future is actually drawing us toward something bigger and more wonderful than we even have capacity to imagine? That’s certainly how folks like Thomas Berry and the paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin saw it: the journey of the Universe is one in which we’re all being pulled toward greater, more beautiful diversity and a deeper, more interconnected communion, in which all creatures – animal, vegetable, mineral creatures – have intrinsic value. For me, the name of both that drawing power and that relational communion is simple: Love, writ large and writ long.
We need our plans, just as a ship needs charts, a compass, and a rudder. But we also need to bracket our goal- and plan-driven egos (Self, I’m talking to you!) enough that we can be responsive to the more beautiful world that keeps calling to us from the future. And staying open to that future, ironically, can help us keep our hearts open to the gifts and needs of the present.
As always, the Earth & Spirit Center provides both the tools and the communal support to help you be drawn by the future and mindfully present in the present. We hope you’ll make some plans to get involved this Spring!
Kyle Kramer, CEO