40 episodes

Awakin Calls are weekly conversations that share insights and inspiration from various corners of the ServiceSpace ecosystem.

Awakin Call ServiceSpace

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

Awakin Calls are weekly conversations that share insights and inspiration from various corners of the ServiceSpace ecosystem.

    Anna-Zoë Herr -- Surrendering and Opening to Hope in Times of Crisis

    Anna-Zoë Herr -- Surrendering and Opening to Hope in Times of Crisis

    “Surrendering reminds me that my way is always inferior to the way of life.” – Anna-Zoë Herr

    University was about to start and Anna-Zoë Herr had exhausted her last option for arranging living quarters. Where to turn? For weeks, she had searched the inventory of apartments only to find they had already been filled. Her last option was a listing in a rural area far outside the city limits (and far from the university). After an exhausting trip navigating public transportation, Zoë was dismayed to discover that the apartment was once again no longer available. When she got to the bus stop to head back home, she realized the last bus of the day had already left.

    “God, just tell me what to do,” she cried, breaking down in tears. “Thy will be done. I just want what you want for me.” After a few moments, the thought came to her, “Go and hitchhike.” Obedient to the command, she stuck out her thumb and was picked up by a man on his way back into town, who said he could give her a ride. They got to chatting and it turned out this man was a plumber and knew of an apartment that would soon be vacated. It was located right next to the university and the landlord was a friend of his. The man drove Zoë straight to the apartment so she could take a look and meet the landlord and she signed the contract right then.

    Such surrender – and trust in God and in humankind – manifests in the diverse threads of her life as an artist, sustainability researcher, and spiritual seeker. “Surrendering reminds me that my way is always inferior to the way of life,” she says, as she describes a broken heart that sent her on a 10-month solo adventure of a lifetime hitchhiking through South America at age 19, which experientially confirmed something of humankind's fundamental kindness.

    Zoë’s creative endeavors, primarily painting and photography, are embodied experiences of surrender and trust. The creative process is “a language that speaks to our hearts in a way in which it can listen intently, if we surrender to the process. I try to get to a place of whole-hearted surrender of what I think something should be and allow what wants to come, to emerge.” The output of her surrender has resulted in solo exhibitions of her work throughout the world.

    Surrender is also a quality linked to the cultivation of hope in her work as a researcher and public educator on the climate crisis. Confronted with the often-overwhelming data of despair that depicts the current ecological situation, we face an imperative to acknowledge the bleak outlook while at the same time letting go of the inevitability that this be our future--in order to imagine a different one. Imagination is the key to finding hope and shifting the narrative of an us vs. them approach to nature (and to humanity) to an interconnected, interdependent reality, says Zoë. Just as Zoë practices surrender when standing before a blank canvas, there is an invitation for humanity to practice whole-hearted surrender and “allow what wants to come to emerge” and find answers to seemingly unsolvable problems in a new narrative of hope.

    Along with her older brother, Zoë was raised in Hamburg, Germany in a loving and deeply spiritual family environment steeped in the practice of Christian Science, a religion and philosophy which emphasizes God as an all-powerful Divine Love and the laws of God as governing a deeper, ordered reality than that which is visible only to the material senses. Her mother, Anette Kreutziger-Herr, was a professor and author of several books, who left academia to become a spiritual healer. Her father was a Christian Science lecturer and teacher.

    When Zoë’s father passed four years ago, she grappled with almost unbearable pain and grief and was finding it difficult to find hope. One night, she had a dream in which her father appeared, sitting opposite her. “I came back because you have a question for me,” he said. Zoë was taken aback and then

    Robi Damelin -- Resisting Revenge to Embrace Humanity and Peaceful Co-existence

    Robi Damelin -- Resisting Revenge to Embrace Humanity and Peaceful Co-existence

    On March 3, 2002, Robi Damelin’s world shattered. A Palestinian sniper shot and killed ten Israelis, including several soldiers, at a checkpoint near the Palestinian occupied territories. Among those killed was her 28-year-old son, David, an active member of the peace movement. Her heart raw and weeping, Robi’s first words were: “Do not take revenge in the name of my son.” Somewhere below the grief, the values of coexistence and tolerance, with which she’d raised her two sons, had been summoned, and she knew even in the acuity of that moment that exacting vengeance would merely fuel the cycle of violence. With the same clear-sightedness, she graced David's grave with a quotation by the Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran: "The whole earth is my birthplace and all humans are my brothers.” These words foretold the mission that would soon become her life.

    Born in South Africa during apartheid, Robi was raised in a fiercely progressive family who vocally opposed the government’s policies (she described an uncle who defended Nelson Mandela during his first treason trial, and a distant cousin who marched with Mahatma Gandhi against discriminatory policies in South Africa). In 1967, Robi moved to Israel with the hope of “saving Israel” during the Six-Day War. But the war had ended, so she volunteered to work in a kibbutz and learned Hebrew. She worked for The Jerusalem Post, got married, and had two sons — Eran and David. She dreaded that they would eventually have to serve time in the army, as was mandatory for anyone in Israel who turned 18.

    As Robi ran a public relations firm that worked with companies like National Geographic, the History Channel, and Unilever, David was called to the reserves, which is when tragedy struck. In the wake of David’s death, Robi couldn’t bear “business as usual” and closed down her office. “It is impossible to describe what it is to lose a child,” she said. “Your whole life is totally changed forever. It’s not that I’m not the same person I was. I’m the same person with a lot of pain. Wherever I go, I carry this with me.”

    This same pain, she realized, was shared by victims’ families on both sides of the conflict and could be a powerful catalyst for healing together. Three months after David’s death, Robi attended a demonstration and spoke to more than 60,000 people about her son and her hope for Israel to vacate the Palestinian occupied territories. She made an impression upon the Parents Circle – Families Forum, or PCFF, a grassroots organization of some 600 Israeli and Palestinian families who lost loved ones to the conflict, fostering dialogue, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.

    “It took me time to understand,” she reflected, “to look at the differences in temperament and culture, and become much less judgmental. I think David was a much more tolerant person than me. I learned a lot of lessons from him, and the pain of his loss created a space in me that was less egocentric -- that I know what's best for everybody.” The PCFF would soon become Robi’s refuge and her path to a lifelong journey of self-discovery and activism. She would become the spokesperson of the PCFF and their Director of International Relations, speaking worldwide with a Palestinian partner.

    A little over two years after David was killed, Robi learned that David’s killer had been captured. Robi was aware that her role in communal reconciliation work would lack credibility unless she could walk the talk. After much soul-searching she wrote a letter to the sniper’s family, seeking dialogue as a first step toward forgiveness. Her carefully drafted letter presented David as she knew him, as a deep thinker, a compassionate student leader, an advocate of peace, an opponent of Israeli settlements, and a reluctant soldier. It also presented the work and objectives of the PCFF. Her hopes of receiving a swift, constructive reply, however, were dashed.

    Ethan Hughes -- Radical Simplicity as an Act of Disruptive Peacemaking

    Ethan Hughes -- Radical Simplicity as an Act of Disruptive Peacemaking

    Many years ago, Ethan Hughes and his wife, Sarah, launched a wild experiment in radical simplicity that continues to this day: no electricity, no computers, no use of anything they don’t make by hand. They use an outhouse, grow their own food, cook in solar ovens, store their canned food in root cellars, and read to their two young daughters by beeswax candlelight. “There’s just no reason to do anything that doesn’t add to your life force,” Ethan says.

    What started as a personal experiment has evolved into the Possibility Alliance, an educational and service community free from fossil fuels that was created by Ethan and his family to welcome anybody and everybody interested in experiencing how to live according to practices vital to personal and planetary well-being: radical simplicity, agenda-less service, social activism, inner work and gratitude. For Ethan's family, living with radical simplicity is a means for helping unleash their own and others' gifts, to reach their spiritual potential and inspire others to do so as well, and to become the most magnanimous vessel of love they can be. Living simply is a way of embodying the deep life force possible to all.

    Located first in La Plata, Missouri and then in Belfast, Maine, the Possibility Alliance to date has hosted more than fourteen thousand visitors from around the globe, from Congolese refugees to a West Coast rock band, all inspired by their mission. For Ethan, “The Possibility Alliance is about freeing us from fear’s grip, about creating resilience and pumping our fists in the air when people say, ‘I have this crazy dream.’”

    Ethan’s crazy dream started when he was 13, after his father was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, causing Ethan to question everything. In college, he witnessed firsthand the devastation of an oil spill in Ecuador, watching indigenous people scooping dead animals out of the sludge. Vowing to give up cars and travel only by bike or public transportation, he says, “My amount of joy, wonder, and love of being alive increased.”

    Soon after college, Ethan unexpectedly inherited $150,000, every penny of which he promptly gave away. After he married Sarah, whom he claims is even more radical than he is, the couple spent 18 months living at the Community of the Ark, a petrol-free activist center in La Borie Noble, France. They concluded that to really embody their dream, to whole-heartedly live out their vision, they would have to create a community from scratch, and even to choose to live well under the poverty line – which they continue to choose to do, in order to be exempt from contributing to the war machine via taxation.

    The Possibility Alliance was established as a 110-acre intentional community in La Plata, Missouri. For 11 years, the Alliance gave free classes in subjects including straw bale building, homesteading, wild edibles, tree pruning, permaculture, organic gardening, and civil disobedience. Everyone was welcome. Initially anticipating perhaps 200 or so visitors a year, the Alliance ended up hosting more than 10,000; and when the visitors showed up for free classes, they were met at the train station by a horse and buggy. All was offered in the spirit of gift, including the first by-donation permaculture certification in the U.S. 

    In 2018, Ethan and Sarah moved the Possibility Alliance to Belfast, Maine, where they serve in their local community and also work on indigenous reparations, anti-oppression, and what may be the most important pillar of their mission: gratitude and celebration. “Our biggest question has always been, ‘How do we enjoy the revolution?’,” Ethan says. “We live off the grid but we live like kings. We play music, do puppet shows, swim in the ponds, host sledding Olympics.”

    The Possibility Alliance has given away $130,000 for reparations to indigenous and black causes over the past 15 years, tithing 20 percent to BIPOC groups. In the spirit of enjo

    Rajeev Peshawaria -- Steward Leadership: Between Profits and Purpose

    Rajeev Peshawaria -- Steward Leadership: Between Profits and Purpose

    Rajeev is the CEO of Stewardship Asia Centre in Singapore, and Founder President of the Leadership Energy Consulting (LEC) Company in Seattle, WA. 

    Author of the Wall Street Journal and Amazon best seller Open Source Leadership (McGraw Hill 2017), Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders (Simon & Schuster 2011), co-author of Be the Change (McGraw Hill 2014) and a regular writer for Forbes, he is an out-of-the-box thought leader on leadership, change management and corporate governance.  He has extensive global experience in leadership and organizational consulting, with a particular focus on uncovering personal and organizational “leadership energy.”

    Rajeev’s professional roots are in industry. Prior to starting LEC, he was CEO of the Iclif Leadership & Governance Centre based in Malaysia.  Formerly, he has been Chief Learning Officer of both Coca-Cola and Morgan Stanley, and has held senior positions at American Express, HSBC and Goldman Sachs. At Goldman, Rajeev helped found Pine Street – the firm’s acclaimed leadership academy – and headed Pine Street for Europe and Asia. Before embarking on a career in Executive Development, he was a banker and currency trader. Today, he is a sought-after international speaker and has been widely featured in international media platforms from Bloomberg to CNN to Harvard Business Review.


    After a high-flying start in a coveted investment banking career, Rajeev felt disillusioned by the prevalent greed and erosion of values in the business world. He noticed the idealism and enthusiasm of hundreds of starry-eyed young professionals quickly give way to cynicism and hopelessness. For him, the inspiration for transformation arrived in the most unusual place -- his father's funeral. 

    At the funeral, I noticed that entire town had come for my parents' funeral. Thousands and thousands of people pouring in. I couldn't understand. My father was an accountant, an ordinary citizen, not a very rich person. Why did the whole town come? He's not a leader in the traditional sense -- he's not a Neta, he's not a public servant, he's not ... so why? For the funeral, there was a traffic jam. Nobody could get in. Everyone wanted to pay their respects.

    In my grief at the time, I looked around and saw people I hadn't seen for years. I remember seeing an elderly gentleman who carried me in his arms when I was a baby. "Uncle, you came all the way?" I asked him. He replied, "I have come to salute your father. He never had much, but whenever anybody asked him for anything, whatever he had, he gave. There are not many people like that, son." I asked another person the same question. He said, "In the sea of corruption that taxation is, your father was one beacon of honesty. Never took a bribe, never gave a bribe, never did anything wrong and I've come to salute him." I asked a third person and heard a similar response. "Well, he had the courage to fight against injustice. Never ever was he scared. He had so many powerful people wanting to shut him down and even life threats because he was creating havoc for corrupt people, but he was not scared. I've come to salute him."

    Years later as I was sitting down in deep reflection, I realized what leadership was because I was reminded of this funeral and realized that to be a leader you don't have to be big, you don't have to be famous, you don't have to be a genius. You have to have a heart full of gold. And you know the kind of gold I'm talking about! A gold made of grace. You need a heart full of grace and a burning desire to create a better future. That's what my father was embodied -- change the world through his own example. Be the change. That was him.

    His father's example deepend his understanding of about leaders like Gandhi and Mandela, who even after most testing circumstances, never allowed hatred, pride and greed to come in their way and always stood-up for the wellbeing of ALL. That made him realize, that world doesn't

    Chelan Harkin -- Let Us Dance: Inspired Poetry and Ecstatic Expression

    Chelan Harkin -- Let Us Dance: Inspired Poetry and Ecstatic Expression

    At the age of 21, on a pilgrimage to Israel, Chelan (Shuh-LANNE) Harkin found herself sitting alone in the same cell that some 140 years earlier had confined Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i faith. The quietude of the barred room was suddenly broken by a voice she took to be the Persian prophet's spirit saying, "Let us dance." This unexpected invitation cracked her heart wide open and next thing she remembers was her own voice filling the resonant chamber with joyful song.

    A decade later, those three words Harkin heard in that Israeli citadel, would serve as the title of her second collection of mystical poetry, marking just the latest in an on-going series of events which have confirmed for her a playful benevolence at the heart of the universe.

    Your smarts, your talents, your good looks –
    take off these impediments
    and let us dance!

    Born and raised in scenic Hood River, Oregon, Harkin's experiments with poetry began early in life. Prior to learning how to write, she would periodically commission her mother to commit her mystical musings to paper. Throughout Harkin's adolescence, a connection with life's big questions, and the crafting of poetry around them, were to come in and out of focus.

    Then, an introduction to free verse in high school, and – during a therapy session – her first exposure to the work of the 14th-century Sufi poet Hafez fueled her interest in the power of poetry to transform and alchemize old painful conditioning into beautiful medicine.

    Let your words reek of sweat and light
    and carry hints
    of the toil and deep breath
    of your ancestors
    and the notes of any song
    they stored away to pass down to you.
    A poem is where the flint of soul
    strikes the stone of trauma
    and makes a spark.
    The world needs your voice.
    Un-sheath your knowing.
    You have permission
    to say anything.

    Harkin's subsequent pursuit of a degree in consciousness studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, was interrupted by the surprise discovery of a brain aneurysm requiring immediate surgery. Rather than shrink from the jarring diagnosis, she welcomed it as a means to accelerate her own encounter with past trauma.

    Some weeks after successful surgery, with a shaved head starting to sprout hair again, Harkin committed to writing and sharing a poem every day for a month – regardless of quality. On just the second day, an entire poem came pouring through her without effort or in need of editing. Thereafter, all of her poems have been co-created with an unseen and sometimes overly-prodigious muse.

    ...each morning before we wrestle the world
    and our hearts into the shape of our brains,
    look around and say, ''Wow!''
    Feed yourself fire.
    Scoop up the day entire
    like a planet-sized bouquet of marvel
    sent by the Universe directly into your arms
    and say ''Wow!''...

    Thereafter, Harkin continued for a number of years to post poems to Facebook, where most of them collected a handful of shares and a few dozen likes. But one morning she woke up to discover "The Worst Thing We Ever Did" had gone viral and been shared 30,000 times.

    Encouraged by the poem's reception, Harkin directly appealed to Hafez and his friends to help guide her in the publishing and promotion of her first book. Thus petitioned, this "dead poets society" readily obliged by connecting her (in the most playful of ways) with popular Hafez interpreter Daniel Ladinsky, and award-winning writer Mary Reed.

    ...The worst thing we ever did
    was take the dance and the song
    out of prayer
    made it sit up straight
    and cross its legs
    removed it of rejoicing
    wiped clean its hip sway,
    its questions,
    its ecstatic yowl,
    its tears...

    Often compared to Rumi's poetry, Harkin's offerings invite readers to embrace the fullness of their being, by "inviting the fumbling, suffering parts of our nature and our divinity to meet for tea in the heart, to have a great laugh, and share a big hug." She is a tireless cheerleader for everyone she encounters to pursue the

    Anthony Siracusa -- Revolutions and the Politics of Being: One Cycle at a Time

    Anthony Siracusa -- Revolutions and the Politics of Being: One Cycle at a Time

    Anthony Siracusa arrived at First Congregational UCC in Memphis in 2002 as a tattooed, legally emancipated 17-year-old high-school dropout, seeking to establish a free community bike repair shop at the church. He could hardly have imagined then that he would – over the course of the next two decades – help transform the lives of countless youth and community members; spark a sustained community movement to transform Tennessee into one of the most bike-friendly (and clean transportation) states in the US South; go on to college and complete a master’s and doctorate degree; write a pre-eminent intellectual history tracing the origins of nonviolence in the American civil rights movement; and create curriculum and strategies for helping students and organizations recognize their inherent transformative power.

    And yet that's how his trajectory as a change agent unfolded. Author of Nonviolence before King: The Politics of Being and the Black Freedom Struggle (2021), Siracusa studies the power of successful and enduring social movements from the grist of deep life experience. He has spent his life practicing – and then studying and teaching – how ordinary people find courage and the “in-dwelling light” that compels them to assert their power and humanity in the face of deprivation, dehumanization and injustice – not principally as a form of protest, advocacy or activism, but first and foremost as a way of being and living in the world with integrity, of asserting their full humanity. The “politics of being” – rather than strategy or activist tactics – has, according to Siracusa, animated the most enduring and transformative social movements in history.

    Siracusa’s focus on ordinary people simply asserting their humanity to live according to their inner light – rather than setting out to change the world – is true to his deeply rooted life experience. “We have to be careful not to get focused on the big things,” he says. “That was not my ambition when I started. As things evolve, your imagination expands.”

    The way he started was as a 15-year-old bike enthusiast walking into a repair shop, excited by the vibrant community scene and people assembled there. He soon got a job at the shop to be part of it, but felt the limits of having to charge kids, watching them have to turn away. He realized there must be a better way to support people in pursuing their passion and to further the community’s health. He happened to come across a how-to guide for starting a community bicycle program, and realized he could do it: all he would need would be “free space, a bunch of bikes and parts, and someone who is silly enough to work on all bikes for free.”

    Once First Congregational Church offered him the free space, he opened Revolutions Community Bicycle Shop in June 2002. Living in an anarchist commune when he started the shop (and later above the shop at the church), Siracusa imagined his bike shop as a place to bring diverse groups of people together. He saw cycling as one way to help people take care of themselves and the environment. And because cycling had inspired within him a deep passion and connected him to supportive relationships, he wanted to connect with local kids, teaching them about cycling and bike maintenance and giving them a place to belong. He didn’t simply want to repair bikes in a transactional way; he wanted to build deep 1:1 community relationships where people took the time to learn from and teach one another how to do their own repairs. Siracusa called his work a kind of radical reciprocity. “Generous giving is a challenge; receiving out of life’s abundance is also a challenge. Giving and receiving freely – it’s the way we all grow together into the best self, the best community, we can be.”

    The policy at Revolutions was simple: just come. And come they did. Within months there was a steady stream of visitors entering the church basement to repair and build bike

Customer Reviews

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8 Ratings

8 Ratings

Mary Rothschild ,

Leisurely and in-depth

A joy to hear unscripted conversations that are given time to breathe

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