- TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I learned about security. my (our) need for it and my (our) role and responsibility in creating it.
I am part of a group called Restorative Activism led by Christina Jordan and Cairo Rha. The group of twenty of us have been learning about how to do our part to be a voice for change in the world … in a restorative way (My paraphrasing of what I feel I have discerned over the past many weeks. I may have a “corrections corner” next week as Christina is a friend of the newsletter :) )
And…I have to admit that I am a bit sleepy this morning as last night I finished the second meeting with my small group finishing what I thought was a very simple assignment. By the end of the meeting last night at 10:00, I realized that it was time for me to level up and out of the home and be ready to hold space for people in the larger world.
To wit: A fundamental role of a parent is to provide a safe space for their children to explore and grow. It needs to be wide enough that they learn through doing (and occasionally falling) but secure enough so that when they do fall, you’re there to ensure that they know they are, ultimately, safe. Honestly, what’s incredibly challenging about this, as any parent knows, is that the boundaries of this keep changing with each child, with each new arena, and over time. Kudos to all of us parents :)
However, our Restorative Activism group is about to hold a (virtual) World Cafe soon, with each of us inviting 3 people. Each of us students will then act as facilitator in a room with three people who have never met each other. We will use what we have learned to create a safe space to engage a lively (read: healthfully tense) conversation that might bring insight to all of us and move us toward more openness, more mutual understanding, more emotional strength and flexibility…
I had just been the one to say aloud that I felt our world would be a better place when our elders (me!) would take responsibility for their healing and be the adults in the room :) so that the young people could do what they are supposed to do and explore and grow.
In other words, we would define adult not by how much money someone has earned, good looking they have managed to get, or how old they are yet young they look, but by how much emotional strength and flexibility they have built up over the years? How much they are willing to mentor the young, etc. Those would be the people our young people would look to for answers. I still think that is a great idea, by the way.
And I was the one in my small group who kept focusing on the insecurity in this idea. What if fights break out? What if someone says something so rude, and no one is there to bring reconciliation?
One of my small group members then patiently explained to me that it would be us, with all we have learned over the past many weeks, who would maintain that safe space to allow for healthy tension.
What a great idea…
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
— Nelson Mandela
Recently I have noticed that the groups I am involved in seem to have theme convergence, a term I just made up. I am part of a lovely small group dedicated to the work of Joan Chittister
and Benedictine community teaching.
So. She offers lovely audio prompts, which you can access via that link above. I was inspired by her most recent prompt to offer a slightly less intense prompt to you this morning:
The idea that, certainly, evil is a part of this world. Along with great beauty and goodness, of course.
When we see, when we notice, when we become aware of something that is not good, we must do what we can to eradicate it or (if you want to take this on) bear the sin of being part of it <= I know, it’s a bit early in the morning for that…
So, to flip the prompt a bit…why don’t you spend some time listing what you have done over the past week to provide safe harbor, comfort, a sense of safety, security, or reconciliation to someone over the last week? If not last week, over your life? A list that you can come back to as evidence of what is possible, where you can grow from, what you might bring to the table.
So, yes, the idea this week is to see yourself as a person with agency. A person who need safety, certainly, but who can also provide safety and security to others. In small and large ways, but daily, you might notice ways to extend a hand, say a word or two, or refrain from speaking if that seems more appropriate.
Creating a safe space, remember, is not to shush tension, but be the person who can hold tension for a bit so that difficult conversations can happen, so that the person needing to express themselves in an awkward or emotional way feels heard and seen and held.
Yikes! Try it and see what happens this week.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
So - remember that holding space for someone can be very challenging and make sure you take time for refilling your source. Long walks, meditation, laughing, being with a friend, deep breathing…you know the drill :)