Monday, June 20, 2005

Creating Each Other

This thought isn't fully formed yet, but I've been aware lately in my group work of the way in which we see, receive, shape, and form each other. The attitudes and expectations and understandings we have of each other aren't just "right" or "wrong"--they are more than empty value judgments that either lift us up or tear us down. They have an active power, a shaping energy, that somehow molds, pats, and forms the us that is emerging in the group.

I invite out this shy energy to show itself more plainly, not simply to play along the edges of our shadows like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. It is a power we may not name in a way most helpful to us and our work. We may tend to pin it on each other or dodge it in any number of defensive moves--but it may have more creative, energizing, and healing power than we know.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Group Story

For the last several weeks, I've been experiencing something new and loving it. I've been filling in for the chaplain at the Stress Center, leading Spirituality groups with patients who are receiving treatment for mental illness and addiction problems. I work with teens and adults, facilitating discussions about the values that we all share as human beings (which is how I differentiate "spirituality" from "religion," which is any formal or traditional faith practice you may follow). So I gather between 5 and 15 people together at a time and we talk about things like love, honesty, forgiveness, acceptance, caring, and growth.

This is amazing work because in groups something emerges that has a life force of its own. We are each part of each others' story, each creating a larger story with others, each part of the unfolding story of the group--through the gathering, the beginning, the blossoming, and the dispersement. Sometimes we will see each other again; most often, we won't.

I have been compiling pastoral care materials I'll probably post on this site for those of you working with groups and, especially, with teens. (I'm working on storytelling with a mandala for the teens group--I'll let you know how it turns out.)

Isn't life amazing when we can view it through this lens? I am continually awed and uplifted to see the essence of life making itself known when we come together and travel--even for a slight moment--in the company of others.