Metamorphosis

I was thinking over the weekend about isolation and this time of lockdown that we find ourselves in as a result of COVID-19 and I started to reflect on the word ‘cocooned’. When we shut ourselves in and button down the hatches, during a storm, we often talk about it as a cocoon-like experience. But what happens in a cocoon is absolutely remarkable.

 

My four key words for this time are: REST, REFLECT, REIMAGINE and RESET. All of those four things happen within a cocoon, and during the process, absolute transformation or METAMORPHOSIS occurs.

 

Before the caterpillar enters the cocoon, it has consumed a great deal. It has pretty much eaten whatever it wanted to and lived however it pleased. But when it enters the cocoon, it is entirely undone. Literally, it becomes a bit like gloop! It feels to me like many people are having the feeling of being ‘undone’ during this time. And not only individuals, whole ways that we have built our world together are being called into question. This enforced REST is causing us to REFLECT and as we do so, we are beginning to see the world around us differently. We are recognising how separated we have become from the world we live in – we are learning that it is not a commodity to be consumed, but a living, breathing Planet with which we are supposed to have a truly symbiotic relationship. We are learning just how disconnected we have become from our neighbours and are beginning to discover a new interconnectedness across the fragile family of humanity. We are learning just how much time we spend serving our dysfunctional systems and are allowing ourselves to question the validity of the way we are living and indeed the story which we have bought into. We are being individually and corporately undone, just like the caterpillar in the cocoon.

 

For the caterpillar, it must feel incredibly destabilising. Everything it has become up until this point is brought into question. As it starts to unravel within the cocoon, I wonder if it feels deeply insecure, anxious, unsafe, wishing it could stop the process and go back to the familiar ways of being a caterpillar. But the journey of metamorphosis is not an easy one, but it is absolutely vital if the caterpillar is to become what it is destined to be. Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar is broken down into ‘IMAGINAL CELLS’ – these begin to form the caterpillar into something altogether different. The caterpillar can no longer remain as it was, it is being REIMAGINED into something far more beautiful in which it can become a true gift to the world – in beauty, in pollination, in the very story that it tells of transformation and redemption.

 

And so, everything is changing within the cocoon. I wonder what is being reimagined in us, in me, in you, in our shared experience. What are we becoming? Can we really go back to such destruction of the earth we live in – such disconnectedness from the world and the people we live with? Can we really continue to fight one another, hate each other or build walls between us? Are we going to continue to allow our children to be fodder for the machine? Will we ongoingly live with such injustice, caused by our hoarding, rooted in our insecurity? Will our approach to healthcare continue to be so reactionary? Will our politics remain so removed and unrelational? Does our economics have to be so destructive to the planet and so unjust for humanity? Surely, we ourselves are potentially being formed into something altogether more beautiful. We cannot crawl back out of our cocoons as caterpillars wanting to eat ever more leaves. We have an opportunity to leave that all behind, to RESET together and refuse to go back to our old ways. That means things cannot remain the same! Everything must change! Our old ways and means simply won’t cut it any more.

 

If there were any of the old biblical prophets around these days, they would be using another R word. They would be standing on the social media corners, shouting REPENT, REPENT! Repentance. It literally means to utterly change ones mind, or turn around completely, to change your mind about walking one way and walk in another way. In Ancient Greek, the language of the New Testament writings, the word repent is METANOIA. It has a similar root to it as the word for transformation, METAMORPHOO, from which we get our word Metamorphosis – the same process as happens in the cocoon. If we are to be transformed, then we have to be willing to go through the process of repentance, to stop thinking and acting in the ways of the past and to embrace the newness of the future that is coming towards us. God, who is LOVE (and who is not interested in the building of big things which look impressive, but in the renewal of all things), promises to walk with us, to uphold us and to be part of the journey of transformation with us. We are not alone in this. The planet is literally groaning for it, our hearts are longing for it and the Spirit of God is calling for it……Does it feel scary? Yes! Is this time full of pressure and insecurity? Absolutely! But when you stop and consider what we are learning, don’t we owe it to future generations and the planet to be transformed by the renewing of our minds? Currently we are in the cocoon, and we’re being undone. But a day is coming when we will spread our wings again for an altogether reimagined future. Let us hope and take action to ensure that it is one full of love, kindness, wellbeing, compassion, and peace! In the rest and reflection, let us take time to reimagine and get ready to reset!

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Love Society – Part 2 – Triads, Weaving a Web and Panel

Bev Skeggs gave us so much to think and talk about with each other. If you haven’t had a chance to watch her amazing talk yet, then please do so! You can find it in Part 1 of this blog series. She left us with a question – “How can we build value with those who are devalued?”

 

 

One of my favourite ways to explore big questions like this (and there are many methods we use through our ‘art of hosting’ training) is Triads. Triads is a simple and effective way of helping people have really meaningful conversations whilst being deeply listened to. It’s a very powerful experience. It involves breaking into groups of three (obviously). One person is the ‘speaker’, one person is the ‘listener’ and the other is the ‘witness’. The listener asks the speaker the question that everyone is exploring. The speaker then has 10-15 minutes (depending on time constraints) to answer the question in whatever way they want to. The listener listens deeply, might ask some more questions, or encourage the speaker to unpack what they’ve said a bit more. They stay curious, trying to draw out the wisdom of the speaker, but not slipping into the role of ‘speaker’ themselves. At the end of the time, the listener reflects back what they have heard. The witness holds the whole process and watches over the time and might offer some reflections of the process or things that have gone unspoken or unheard. Then everyone swaps round into different roles, so that by the end of 40-45 minutes, everyone has had a turn in each role.

 

When everyone was back in the room together and after a good coffee break, we asked the triads to reflect on the following question (moving from singular to combined wisdom – from ‘me’ to ‘we’), having heard from each person in turn: “What have we discovered that  builds value?” 

 

Each triad (or pair of triads) was then asked to come up with one sentence that captured their corporate wisdom. Here are the sentences that were spoken into the room – they are worthy of much reflection. I love how much synergy can come from a diverse group of people!

What have we discovered that builds value?

Non-judgemental education from an early age builds intrinsic value into everyday life, regardless of circumstances.

We have found in the Poverty Truth Commission that through listening, understanding develops, people recover value and become actively involved in pathways forward.

Trusting that we can subvert pre-packaged judgements and values for the value of the common good.

Accepting that we all make judgements, we grow awareness of how to work with judgments in a positive way that is empowering.

Positively engage with and welcome ‘others’ without judgement and recognise the value of individual contributions.

Discovering/Recognising/Empowering/Encouraging/Nurturing the fact we all have unique value and have power in value.

Value (like energy) cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be recognised/transformed/moved around/flow.

Removing prejudices, titles and labels – going back to our humanity and finding joy in sharing life, food and experiences.

In daily interactions, conversations and opportunities by being positive role models in local and regional settings.

Positive disruption focused on an individual level, driven by a moral imperative and brave vulnerability can create a movement of enfranchised, knowledgeable, solid people focused on social justice not social judgement.

Eating or talking around a table builds individual and social value through real connection.

Recognise the common value of humanity and our vulnerability to build empathy and non-judgemental connection.

Knowing that someone understands, accepts and respects our values. 

Recognising and acknowledging value through relationships and being rather than achievements. 

Awareness of self and therefore others.

 

Jon Dorsett and Lou Andrews, part of our team and outstanding graphic harvesters (if you ever need any help!) turned this wisdom into a spider’s web of learning. This is a kind of framework for a renewed society, maybe! However, none of this is straightforward and my friend Roger Mitchell has also done some really helpful reflections of his own, in his excellent blog.

If we want to build a society based on love and kindness, we have to examine the value we place on people and the environment and the values which shape our society currently. That guy Jesus, once said, “What you value (treasure) is where your heart will be also….”

 

To finish the morning we had a reflective panel discussion – it was packed full of wisdom – enjoy!

 

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