PRACTICES FOR LIFE
REFLECTIONS ON THE DAY OF GIVING
& THE MEANING OF BREAKDOWN
Sandra Lommasson 5/8/2016
While the technology
breakdown on the Day of Giving last week was heartbreaking and frustrating, I
also see elements of phenomena that accompany any genuine movement toward
transformation. With a mission of “cultivating practices that transform
lives, organizations and communities,” we at Bread of Life are very
familiar with the crazy backdoor things that happen when energies are moving
powerfully toward real change like growing philanthropy in Sacramento. Such
moments are vulnerable for the people involved and for the movement
itself. The right kind of support in
such a time is crucial and is a core part of the mission here.
Transformational energies, whether in an individual seeking
to live into new behaviors that are healthier or in a community growing toward
a spirit of generosity, evoke a mostly unconscious ‘equal and opposite’
reaction. It’s something like the undertow created when the energy of a wave
hitting the shore is matched by the energy of that wave flowing back to sea.
to American cultural mythology, change isn’t a steady acceleration and ascent,
but it much more likely to have a rhythmic back and forth quality something
like waves or birth contractions gradually thinning the birth canal until the
new baby can push through.
Real forward movement will
meet real resistance, and that meeting place, though awkward and painful, is a
natural part of the process. It exercises our too-small perceptions; it asks us
to revise our self-estimations, and it relieves us of the tyranny of believing
we can or should be able to control every variable.
From this perspective, some
of what we saw last Tuesday is simply how deep change works, which is often
with a breakdown before there is a breakthrough. What matters now is how we
choose to engage BOTH movements with integrity. There will necessarily be
inquiries into what happened to avoid repeating mistakes, but ‘what went wrong’
isn’t the whole story.
The rest of the story is that
the breakdown came from a genuinely transformative moment when efforts to
encourage a culture of generous participation have been taking root. The ‘equal
and opposite’ reaction of resistance in all its forms is a marker that
something real and important is happening.
My concern is with the human
cost. Once the adrenaline of meeting the chaos wears off one of the real
dangers is that discouragement, cynicism or burn out can take hold. Yes, Sacramento
persevered and yes, people found alternate ways to give. And, care of the
people who carry the vision at every level from regional leadership to
non-profit workers in the trenches is essential. Time to reflect and to renew
in an environment that trusts difficulty as part of a larger process can make a
real difference in the capacity to continue the vital work of
We offer practices like dynamic dialogue and spiritual direction that offer support to people individually and in groups who seek to
make a difference in the world and are met by experiences like these.
Discerning the way forward from a human standpoint is as important as all the
other forms of planning and evaluation we undertake.
Sound like something of value
to you or your group? We’d welcome an exploratory conversation. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (916) 648-1803.