Random lessons from learning conversations

Today was a day of hosting on webinars, with a group looking at the emerging edges of the non-profit sector in BC and with a group od UNited Church ministers and lay leaders who are hosting transformation and learning together in a community of practice.  At the end of our second call, this Thomas Merton quote was shared with us:

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

This resonates strongly with the tack Meg Wheatley takes in her no book, So Far From Home, which is a call to spiritual warriorship, despite everything.

Several really stunning insights fell at me feet today, from this five hours of online discovery.  Forexample, a friend working with victims of sexual abuse in northern BC talked about how people who do this work are not burnt out by the work – humans have been caring resliiently for each other for eons.  What burns them out is maintaining the systems that formalize that work of community.  As humans we are easy in relationship, but our energy and lives are sapped by turning away from what nurtures us and tending nto a system of professional practice, regulations, administrative accountabilities and resource deployment that leaves us tapped out.

Or another insight today that the real practice of making change is making space for dissent so that there can be an authentic yes from the centre of the work.  Or that evolution is a difficult metaphor for change work, because so much of what we are aiming to change has been put in place intentionally and which purpose.

We are one learning journeys with these groups, and these little insights trickle in like sunlight when you are listening openly and sharing in each other’s discovery.  Nice way to end the week.

One comment.

  1. Dear Chris, love the quote from Thomas Merton, don’t really know much about him, but what he says seems right and true. Followed you from Dave Pollard’s site. There’s a Thomas Merton center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I am from, and those folks are very busy trying to make a valance change.
    I have not read “So Far from Home”, but the idea of being “spiritual warriors” seems like a good one. It is a shame we have not been able to define an idea of God as the “Integral Spirit” that David Korten refers to, and which could appeal to people of all political stripes.