The context was a gathering of people with very different views and vested interests, all sharing the hope of helping an organization and its people cope with a 25% cut in staff. Emotions and egos were busily bubbling in the room.
Ground rules? The usual list began to emerge. Then someone suggested:
- Listen without ego.
- Speak (only) when moved to speak.
- Don't be attached to the outcome.
Do they sound as fine to you as they still do to me?
Do they seem as challenging to you as they still do to me?
They constitute spiritual practice in the context of interaction.
To listen without ego: May I be a quiet pool, reflecting what is offered, holding what is given. May I honor and follow reality as it is rather than pursuing my own agenda.
To speak (only) when moved to speak: May I offer peaceful, attentive quiet. May I speak not from a need to be visible but only when something genuine rises to the surface as a clear, honest, helpful opening to grace.
To not be attached to the outcome: Wow, this can be the most difficult of all. In our partisan world, it is truly counter-cultural. May I be serenely aware that my "clear, honest, helpful" words may not be the last word or even the right words. May I open myself to the wisdom of the people and place and process. May I stop advocating and keep listening - to them and to myself. May I recognize and give expression to the movement of the Spirit in and among us - wherever the Spirit leads, even if very different from my initial sense of direction.
All of this is pablum unless I actually put myself in situations where I am with people who see things differently. So a coda: may I walk the paths that God opens for me, confident that these "ground rules" will let the holiness of the exploration well up within me in fruitfulness.