Keith Simmonds
By Keith Simmonds
May 10th, 2013

We are all as unique and as individual as God made us to be. We might all ‘look alike’ to some visitor from a galaxy far, far away, but each of us is aware, sometimes painfully so, of the characteristics that make us as different from one-another as is one grain of sand from its neighbour.

Each of us experiences change in a unique and individual fashion. The forces of change might be part of our common experience, but our responses are as varied and as diverse as we are. Perhaps that’s an evolutionary necessity. Whatever the reason, we bend differently in the winds, we show wear and chafe uniquely, in the waves.

We can manage the ways we respond to the forces that shape us. We can examine our lives in the company of others who wish to undertake examination too. We can take up our living with intention and ride the currents of change to a destination more of our choosing. Or we can roll along in the tidal flow. Whatever we do, interesting shapes will result.

Chip and Dan Heath, in their book “How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, write of change and the exploration of change in many fascinating ways. One that caught my attention had to do with the way some forms of therapeutic counselling are changing.

They write of emergent practices that have one imagine what the world would look like if one were free of a particular burden, then to imagine one small sign that would herald that new existence. And then:

“Can you remember a time when that small sign was present in your life?”

Apparently most of us can. From there the structure of the future, firmly grounded in the memories of the past, can be built. From there a new response can be grown. A new response to the forces of change that may otherwise wear a more traumatic path in the one subjected to them.

Building or growing a new response to the forces of change can be a challenging prospect. Even if we are able to imagine a different world, even if we are able to recall the memory of a time when the signs of that world existed. Even if we are able to call those signs into being, doing so can be a difficult and lonely prospect.

It is, however, something that can be done in community. Perhaps a small community. A congenial, considerate, caring circle of friends. Ears that listen, hearts that hold, arms that bear, shoulders to weep on, eyes that smile and voices to sing with. Community that is accepting accountable, and aware. Community that listens with heart and mind.

To my mind, it helps if the community is grounded in mutual care and a common understanding of unconditional love. A community one can relate to and be in relationship with.

I wonder what the world would be like, if we were all part of communities like that?

Keith Simmonds is a diaconal minister in the Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge serving Beaver Valley, Rossland, Salmo and Trail.

Categories: Op/Ed

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