Reconciliation and Conversion
The Crucible of Transformation
A community without pain will not become a refounding community. No one chooses the tumultuous road of deep change without the driving force of deep pain. Pain is the catalyst that pushes us to take a good hard look at ourselves and search for what needs to change. This search, among the faithful, is what invites us back to God and one another. As a result we are brought to the road of conversion and reconciliation, the very crucible of refounding.
Communities try a number of methods for dealing with their collective pain once publically acknowledged. Feeling demoralized and frustrated from repeatedly naming their pain, but not getting through it to resolution, some communities attempt to put a “moratorium” on its further discussion. Some communities may attempt a healing ritual or make renewed promises to “love,” “respect” and “trust” one another. Other communities have tried offering voluntary, weekend workshops to learn how to better communicate. I have not yet seen or heard of any such efforts transform a community steeped in pain.
Road less taken
Communities that wish to heal their brokenness, reconcile their woundedness and experience genuine conversion must go through the same arduous processes as any other individual, couple or group seeking wholeness and healing. There are no shortcuts. Such processes are familiar to all who have experienced conversion and involve several of the following components:
Turn inward and engage in utterly honest and very painful introspection in order to reclaim truths that have been left unearthed or un-integrated;
Strip away the layers of defenses that keep our wounds, and the painful truths they conceal, from our own awareness;
Risk further injury by courageously turning toward others we have long since turned away from because of the injury we caused them or the injuries we experienced because of their behavior toward us;
Cease from blaming others for our pain and take responsibility for our own healing and for companioning others in theirs;
Put down our need to justify our actions and admit the naked truth of our failures;
Only after honest searching, shared exploration, mutual empathy and compassionate understanding: a) Do the work of self-challenge as well as challenging others to stretch and grow into new behaviors; b) Offer and receive expressions of forgiveness, atonement, or restitution;
Only after such direct conversations, try out new behaviors and allow others the same in order to create new patterns, new growth opportunities and new foundations of trust.
This is a journey through the dark night of the soul. It is the most painful and necessary work of all. Nothing less will bring about deep and lasting, transformational change. It is the crucible of refounding.