Setting the Table – or – Grace before dinner

Tom Soma surprised me–and all of us at Conversation 2010–by harvesting in real time our discussion from the first day of our meeting into a poem, which he read aloud to us at the conclusion of our day. Tom is the Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington (Portland, OR). He is a 2009 and 2o10 participant at GHC Conversations. Following is the first of four poems Tom wrote for Conversation 2010.

Setting the table -or- Grace before dinner

Dream makers
in a middle place,
surrounded by a different mix of friends—
both known and to be known—
starting with blank pages,
suspending judgment,
considering “things that make you go, ‘hmmm,’”
challenging former assumptions within a space to think,
searching for more meaningful, more fair ways
to do good…

Together
we are writing a story
which will end,
ironically and paradoxically
with a more passionate listening
and a letting go
of outcomes—

For we already know
that the traveling, the journey
matters far more
than any anticipated destination.,
and that
the conversation,
the dialogue
are intrinsically worthwhile…

Friendship, encouragement,
affirmation, inspiration
all await our embrace.

Energy will emerge naturally
from the bouncing around of ideas,
and community fueled and forged likewise
through trust.

The table is set,
the menu nutritious and unlimited.
Let us partake of the feast.

Tom Soma
28 April 2010

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