I just returned from the fourth and final weekend of The Mystery of Relationships, a co-production of Angeles Arrien and me. The weekend's theme was Responsibility and Co-Creation.
The thirty participants spent much of the weekend conversing in same-sex Lodges (women with women and men with men) and then in dialogue between the Lodges. These conversations were fascinating.
There is some very big work to do both within the Men's Lodge and the Women's Lodge– and between the Lodges– as people seek to move past assumptions, stereotypes and projections into deeper insights and understanding of the "sacred other."
Certainly, self-responsibility is central to that transition. While we all believe that we are responsible there is evidence of a gap that persists between our vision of our own behavior and the impact it has on others.
Both the women and the men saw that the trust needed for deep dialogue is still building. Curiosity is required to overcome the assumptions and fears that impede understanding.
The ability to hold creative tension, the perceptual stretching required to bridge this gap, must be far more robust if we hope to go deeper, heal past hurts, and rebuild mutuality.
Two insights emerged that seemed to make a difference in the learning.
First, when you looked at the sacred other as a distinct culture, more curiosity was available to get past any fears of saying the wrong thing or stepping on toes. That curiosity was critical to getting past old dynamics and misunderstandings and really learn about the culture of the opposite.
Secondly, the fluency of the conversation between the cultures was aided when the dialogue slowed down and contextual understanding was brought to bear on words and meanings. There were great canyons between what some participants thought was being said and what was meant. When care was taken to help others understand a perspective, where it came from, and why it was held, more understanding resulted and dialogue deepened.
When dialogue is conducted with a degree of detachment more truth surfaces. Thanks to the brave thirty for the great work.
Angeles and I will be offering The Mystery of Relationship again later this year. Watch for dates.
© Patrick O’Neill 2012. All rights reserved.