On deepening collaboration through powerful questions
I’m just home from visiting my daughters at college in western Washington. Over walks and coffee, I got to dip into their world of wonderment as they grapple with their journey to adulthood. Who am I in this world? What is my unique contribution? How might I best answer the call of our troubling times?
I was reminded of poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s beautiful passage in Letters to a Young Poet:
“Have patience with all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Don’t try to find the answers now. They cannot be given anyway, because you would not be able to live them. For everything is to be lived. Live the questions now. Perhaps you then may gradually, without noticing, one day in the future, live the answers.”
As I understand this passage, Rilke is suggesting that essential questions are, indeed, unanswerable, as we are ever evolving. It is our active engagement with them that matters, as does our ability to allow the questions to guide our next steps, even when we’re unsure where the path will lead.
The role of questions and inquiry is central to my work with community collaborations. Starting with questions of purpose (Why are we gathering?); using questions to design our approach (What is it we most seek to understand? To impact?); and inviting in shared sense-making and reflection as we move forward (What are we noticing? Why does that matter?). Good questions help us build approaches that are intentional and relevant over time.Continue reading “Living the question”