Conflict Resolution And Light

My recent blog on the Rome Colloquium explored conflict resolution on the macro scale. Some of us face conflict on a micro scale on our own doorsteps. Since this is the season of Epiphany (the spreading light of Christ) we might ask 'What light can it throw on this?'

I bought two copies of Henri Nouwen's 'Reaching Out' as Christmas gifts. He advises us first to practice stillness, and then to hand over to God the fears, prejudices and judgements we become aware of. He suggests we then create a welcoming space in our hearts. He calls this 'the hospitality of the heart' and links it with 'poverty of heart' - 'Blest are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs' (Matthew 5:3). We call this Blessed Simplicity. It means we hand over our demand for control or approval, our fears and defensiveness. We become vulnerable, empty. By doing this we create an inner space where we can listen to and welcome the true person who, in their false persona, is confronting us. We look for the light that is in them (John 1:4).

When we try to do this we realise that the conflict is not just about 'them' and 'us'- these negative forces are in all of us to varying degrees, and positive forces could, potentially, also be in all of us.

Hospitality of the heart is not a subtle invitation to the other to become like us, so that we get our way. It is an invitation to them to sing their songs, dance their dances, and be who they truly are.

This is a process. We are imperfect. It will have ups and downs. But it is absolutely worth while engaging in the process. For people and groups based upon something 'anti' have nothing lasting. Persons or groups who allow light into themselves and into the situation have something that no darkness can extinguish.

Posted at 02:12am on 7th January 2015
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