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.

Image result for wave crashing on a beachTransformational 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.

Text Box: 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.Contrary 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 transformation.

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 sandra@breadoflife.org or call (916) 648-1803.

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Entries
 
Posted by Dianne Aldrich on 16-Nov-2016 at 08:34:07 EST
Subject: Providing a Pathway

Thank you for these necessary words we will need over and over again in the coming days, months, years. May the voice of BOL remain strong and beautiful providing a path through the wilderness.

Posted by Sue Mannshardt on 15-Nov-2016 at 07:03:44 EST
Subject: Renewing Hope

Thank you, Sandra…as always your words hit home, inspire, and help make clearer the road to healing that we need so desperately in our country and world. Many prophetic voices, including yours, have come forward these past few days…from Maria Shriver's interview with Desmond Tutu a day or so before the election, to Jim Wallis, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault…some pretty challenging stuff. I sent at least one of these to our daughter who is deeply grieved (as are we all are), who replied, "I don't see the hope yet!" And as more and more of his cabinet appointees are made known, that hope seems dimmer and dimmer…For me the the question is, what can I do other than contribute to programs like Planned Parenthood or some agency/program that supports saving God's creation, gay rights, civil rights etc etc etc…My hope is that with the approach of Advent, and the coming of hope, joy, peace renewed, my hope will grow stronger and more and more light will shine through the cracks in the darkness you call a sticky pit, and once again we can sing "Holy Darkness!"

Posted by Lynne L on 15-Nov-2016 at 06:19:48 EST
Subject: Engaging

Staying present in the discomfort is the not-so-easy task. It is not easy to stay in the process with the finger-pointing and name-calling when it touches our own ire. Active, engaged presence and deep listening is essential. I am so grateful for the skills, and especially the attitudes, that we have been honing over the past couple of years as interns. May we all remain humbly engaged.

Posted by Carol Abbott on 14-Nov-2016 at 08:59:38 EST
Subject: Community

I join you in wanting to open myself to the times of meeting and listening that will begin to heal our deep divides. Right now my grief makes that seem impossible, and yet I trust that the breath of God IS still creating. I am grateful for the breath of life and hope that comes with and from Bread of Life community.