I have a photograph on my desk that I contemplate daily. A doe is peering through a winter forest of bare trees, gazing at me. I imagine myself in a meadow returning her innocent and watchful stare.
She is on alert, now that she has seen me. I imagine her saying to herself, "Should I move closer? I would like to be in the open meadow, but is it safe? Is this human safe?"
I was once invited by my business partner to a retreat he was leading with executives of a West Coast hospital system. At a moment when the hundred or so people in the room were at a stalemate, my partner invited me to improvise on the piano both the turmoil surfaced in their conversation as well as the "heartbeat" of the hospital's mission.
After I played, a blanket of silence fell upon the room. And then a woman stood up and said, "I remember now why I was drawn to the healthcare profession in the first place. Let's begin this difficult conversation again."
Like the deer at the edge of the forest, she longed to take a step closer. The risk she took made all the difference.