Guitar and music by Robbie Green
Uncertainty. Uncertainty is the bane of decision-making. And if one could distill the job description of leadership into one phrase, it would be: to make decisions –
How to move forward; how to reframe; what perspective to take; what will administer the greatest good to the most people…
Uncertainty is the distillation of our current reality. And it is made all the more distressing (and perilous) by the talking heads (tweeting thumbs) – even experts – declaring so-called facts that rarely, if ever, substantiate one another.
How are leaders meant to lead with so little to go on?
And how do we do this alongside our coleaders – and in the same direction?
How do we lead together in the same direction in unity of spirit?
And do so, under such conditions, paving the path with peace?
If this global pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can never really be certain about the future. Not on this side of glory, anyway.
Except when we can.
We can be certain that whichever direction in which we go, God is walking with us.
We can know that the Spirit of our Living God is in me, and in you – the same Spirit. One God.
We can trust that the One through Whom all things were made, made us creative beings, and that we have the capacity to bring creative light and life to the way forward.
And we can do this with unity – together.
When we acknowledge God’s presence. When we notice the Spirit in one another. When I trust that your creative ideas do not threaten my own – because we draw from the same Source – and look to see that, perhaps, your ideas can augment my own. And wow, their inspirations color in the spaces, making it beautiful. And wait, whose idea was this?
Oh, yeah: all of ours.
We know from neuroscience (and experience) that isolation makes the brain mushy. It is much more difficult to be creative, inspired, when our routines are blurry, the location static. Depression lurks, despair approaches, and the fight or flight instincts begin to seep through into Zoom meetings, phone calls, and the dog who seems to be in the exact spot where I am trying to walk. At every turn!
Those for whom we are given to care and lead are just as uncertain, with brains of mush – and are fairly dying of thirst for touch, community-in-the-flesh. And they clamor along with us to break free from this isolation – while fearful of infection, or infecting a grandparent or neighbor.
Our instinct as leaders is to respond. To respond with a practical, decisive – certain – plan of action. To respond with facts and explanations and inspirational wisdom with which to proceed.
But if we understanding anything about instinct, it is that instinct is not wisdom. It will often save us if we are mortally threatened. But it is usually out of a visceral, unreasoned impulse – uninformed, un-contemplative,
Deprived of acknowledging God’s presence.
Deprived of noticing the Spirit in one another.
Deprived of that deep breath of trust that the Creator is creating in and through you, in and through me, in and through our parishioners.
I love this reflection from Richard Rohr:
The secret to community lies in the way we let other people get through to us and the way we move out of ourselves. This is, of course, the mystery of spirituality, of vulnerability, and powerlessness. When a person on a serious inner journey to their own vulnerability is also in immediate contact with the vulnerable of the world, then some form of community will almost always result.
Without an interior life and a love of justice, most communities just serve themselves.Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, From the Center for Action and Contemplation
How do we lead in a way that is not just serving ourselves or that only of our community?
We do it when . . .
When we acknowledge God’s presence in the very center of this uncertain situation.
When we notice the Spirit in one another and help each other see that same Spirit in still others.
When we trust that your creative ideas do not threaten my own – because we draw from the same Source – and look to see that, perhaps, your ideas can augment my own. And build on them together.
Hold our ideas loosely – because they are not complete if they are not created – creating – in community.
So perhaps we begin with a prayer of lovingkindness. Three deep, cleansing breath-prayers that help to reset the nervous system.
May I be here. Present. Now.
May I say yes to silence. Listen. Notice.
May I let go. Open hand, held loosely. Holy indifference.
And because I am experiencing freedom from anxious grasping, I pray loving kindness over you:
May you be here. Present. Now.
May you say yes to silence. Listen. Notice.
May you let go. Open hand, held loosely. Holy indifference
And because we cannot lead creatively, the fullness of illumination, unless we collaborate (not just sharing ideas, rather, incorporating the good from all, leaving the unimportant from our own) We pray for our leadership:
May we be here. Present. Now.
May we say yes to silence. Listen. Notice.
May we let go. Open hand, held loosely. Holy indifference
So now, with opening hearts, opening minds, opening doors to our sacred temples – the Body of Christ – may we notice the glorious kaleidoscope of color in the spaces that bring our collective mission, this voyage into the unknown – together.
And may we walk ahead together, paving the path with peace, and at the pace of grace.