June 1, 2010
After school ended for the spring term the seminary invited a guest, Dr. Chris Gambill, to come to campus and to help us converse about the events of the last eight months. He came to listen. After his listening, he reported back to us what he had heard so that we could once again listen ourselves.
What causes people who love each other, who are involved in ministry and mission together, who know each other well, to feel like an unbridgeable chasm has opened that may not be fixed? Dr. Gambill met in twenty-four sessions with individuals and groups over a two-day period. He asked four questions of everyone. He returned after a week and reported the things he heard along with some recommendations. In the reporting, he taught some ground rules for dialogue, then facilitated conversation focused over any feelings people wanted to talk about.
I believe in process and time in relationships. If we continue to talk and hear each other, we will be able to build trust again. Chasms can be spanned; issues and differences can be surmounted and overcome. Given time and process.
I don't have an answer to my own question, the "cause" question. Yes, people were laid off. Loads are being adjusted. Question marks sit in front of us begging answers, asking for our attention to prioritization. But I do believe in the process of dialoging together, listening, giving ourselves time to write a new story, filling in details as we move forward.
I know I remember the times when someone has hurt me or chosen to break off relationship with me for one reason or another, my fault or theirs. I might wish I could forget it, but in a surprising way it doesn't tend to hurt my interaction with the person from my perspective. It may cause what appears as irreparable damage and indeed we no longer interact, but usually it is the other person who makes that choice. And I understand their choice as a freedom they possess. I try to exhibit graciousness. Grace permits a repair of breaches and also grants a person owning their own timeline that may require no fix for a time, perhaps for a lifetime.
The time with Dr. Gambill has opened the process to move in healthy directions. Now we need to let time work its part, the two working together to permit us to experience the ministry the Lord has in our midst and to move forward with fresh ability to see what God has in store for us.
And it all starts with listening. Then more listening.