At March Sessions we accepted the name of a consultant to assist us in the work of learning how racism moves among us. We did not achieve unity on the nature of our next step in this learning process but our work was uniquely transformative. Despite our differences, we remained in the room together. We struggled but struggled together. We listened in spite of our anxieties and fears. That shared commitment is the beginning of our shared next step.
“Cohesiveness is the prime requisite for the successful management of conflict. Members must develop a feeling of mutual trust and respect, and must come to value the group as an important means to meeting their personal needs.” … “A member who realizes that others accept and are trying to understand him or her finds it is less necessary to hold rigidly to their personal beliefs.” — Yalom
The author of this well-known text on group psychotherapy is speaking of the human need to trust and respect others as a requisite to successful meaningful communication. We must foster love and respect in our community to overcome the barriers of thoughts, anger, guilt, and shame. Only then, can we see clearly “what love can do.”
As Friends we are members of a faith community in which we accept on-going Divine revelation as a way to foster our shared spiritual health. We treasure the experience of the Divine among the corporate body. We strive to be gathered in the Spirit. From that place of centeredness we can access the trust and respect needed to experience deep listening and communion. We can begin to address the ills of these chaotic and often contentious times. We can venture into the wider world to help the returning citizen, the newly arrived immigrant, the prison inmate, the less economically blessed, the mentally ill, the physically suffering, and those persecuted for different styles of living and beliefs.
Is our Yearly Meeting centered in a love and trust strong enough to listen and respect a wide range of voices, opinions, and actions? Can we lovingly nurture a broad spectrum of actions to address, even counter the myriad inequities caused by racism?
In the past, Friends worked to combat slavery, the mistreatment of immigrants, the horrors of war, and the plight of social and economic inequality. How are these times demanding similar courageous efforts of us now?
Come to Annual Sessions. Be a part of our efforts to labor faithfully for the shared good of our yearly meeting. Be an agent of peaceful, meaningful change within our yearly meeting and in the wider world. Be Friendly. Be teachable. Be present and together.
With the hope of Peace Within & Among Us,
Christopher A. Lucca,
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting