Ihave never been comfortable with leadership. Nevertheless, there I was, leading a five-day retreat with twenty-something seasoned leaders, activists, counselors, and other people more qualified than I was to lead it. On day four it cracked. Diverse expressions of a seething dissatisfaction rose to the surface — a cacophony of unmet needs.

Many of their expressed needs seemed contradictory: some wanted more physical activity; others more deep intellectual discussion or more on practical applications. Some requested more structure and leadership from me; others wanted less from me and more from other people. One person said that she felt that imposing a structure upon a group and taking it upon myself to administer that structure was an inherently violent expression of patriarchy. Another was in anguish that as we sat in that room, rain forests were being cut down — and what were we doing about it?

I won’t pretend...

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