These days around inauguration I’ve been reflecting on change in our nation, in community, in organizations. I felt inspired to write on the change.gov website to the Obama-Biden transition team earlier this month, moved by a book I’ve been deeply touched by. It was energizing and hopeful to write what’s been stirring in my heart. Here it is, slightly edited for posting here.
As a Franciscan Sister, I am inspired by St. Francis of Assisi who lived in a tumultuous time of history (in some ways not so different from our own!) some 800 years ago. His life witnessed to being an instrument of peace, to living in communion with all of creation, to befriending the poor, to seeing all as sister and brother. These values of living in right relationship are a significant contribution to a culture here in the States and in many parts of the world that is often violent, lacking in dignity and respect for persons and for the gift of creation.
My prayers are with you and with all of us who will work together for creative and positive change at a complex time of history. I have felt moved to write as I have been reading a book that offers significant wisdom to us in these times. It is called: “Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People. Organizations, and Society” by Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. Here is an excerpt regarding the book from the homepage of their website (http://www.presence.net/) :
Another great author and facilitator of change we can learn from is: Margaret J. Wheatley. One of her more recent books is: “Finding Our Way: Leadership For an Uncertain Time.” A excerpt from her homepage (http://www.margaretwheatley.com) states:
“In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change—how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book
introduces the idea of “presence”—a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts—to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.”
Practically, I would suggest that in the teams, councils, committees and think tanks that are being created to support change at this time, persons such as these authors and consultants be included. They bring strong global experience in facilitating change for the common good, in listening to the future as it wishes to emerge. In Christian terms we might say they have strong experience in collective discernment and in integrating various disciplines and perspectives—important qualities at this critical juncture.
“I’ve learned, just as Joel Barker predicted when he introduced us to paradigms years ago, that “problems that are impossible to solve with one paradigm may be easily solved with a different one.” I’ve been applying the lens of living systems theory to organizations and communities. With wonderful colleagues, I’ve been exploring the question: “How might we organize differently if we understood how Life organizes?” It’s been an exploration that has helped me look into old patterns and problems and develop new and hopeful insights and practices. It has also increased my sense of wonder for life, and for the great capacity of the human spirit.”
From another vantage point, another prayer-full resource are the many Catholic religious communities (Franciscans, Benedictines, etc.) who have hundreds of years of collective experience in living for the common good, in celebrating unity in diversity, and in discerning collectively our way through change. Joined with other faith communities and traditions, we are a powerful resource for positive change. May God bless you with wisdom, courage and creativity today and every day. Thank you for listening!
May each of us listen deeply for the change that is moving in our hearts. May we be graced with the courage to share it with others; together, then, let us act in service to make this a better world.
Peace and all Good!