In our last blog post, we made the statement that “We also see this [program] as a practice lab…” and that we would elaborate “…in a different blog post.” Here goes.
We are fundamentally rethinking how to establish a sense of spiritual and emotional safety in a group, and how best to empower all participants in the degree of risk taking that feels appropriate to them. We see Participating in God’s Power as a crucible where participants will be building capacity for active and competent agency, rather than relying on the facilitators to provide a sense of spiritual and emotional safety. This will allow participants to make choices to move themselves toward wholeness, through choosing a pattern of wise self-care that fits them individually.
An element of community that is transforming is vulnerability. When we become vulnerable, we are making a choice to reveal our self as we are, and as we want to be. We, facilitators and participants, will be working to bring the external choices and inner unconscious decisions each of us carries about safety, risk and intimacy into consciousness. Through this examination, and with the Inner Teacher leading the way, participants will be choosing levels of trust, and what they need for an internal sense of safety and willingness to risk.
Surrender is often lifted up as a primary way of deepening into relationship with the Divine. My experience as a spiritual director is that women often come to spiritual surrender too early. Culturally, women are taught to “pour out”, to empty themselves for others. For women, or others that have established this pattern of pouring out, there is a need to learn containment, to “grow a self” before we can surrender a self. For others, there is a need to experience themselves as those who can “pour out”. Knowing our patterns helps us to move further into a place of choice, a place I think of as “active and competent agency.”
Any program is greatly impacted by the participants that are called to be a part of the program community. The life experiences, learnings and ways of being that each participant bring with them into this community both open and close possibilities. I’m looking at my garden right now, and my love of roses opens the possibilities that I will have thorny canes, and fragrant, stunning blossoms throughout the summer. It also closes the possibilities that I will have more variety in flowers because my city garden has very limited space.
In similar ways, this program will take on certain characteristics based on who is called to be present. For all of us, our work often involves balancing (or clerking) the needs of the individual and the needs of the community. By beginning to understand more consciously our individual needs, and our impact on the community, we can move further into a wise, discerned, and yes, surrendered place in those needs.
What is the self-care that we need in order to be able to come to that place? What will radical compassion in the midst of a choice for vulnerability look like? As we consciously negotiate our inner desires/needs for intimacy and vulnerability, balanced with the group’s needs for the same, what will rise in us and through us?