It is endlessly fascinating to me how we humans work. We go about the everyday process of living in such a multitude of different ways. Someone once asked for a meeting with me. He had a reputation for being a bit disorganised but as he settled into his chair, he said “I have made a list of things I wanted to talk with you about today.” He unfolded a piece of paper on which was drawn a large flower. In each petal, he had written a topic for discussion. This beautiful, elegant and simple drawing was his way of organising his thoughts whilst still allowing his creativity to shine through. It still makes me smile as I think about it. We had a very productive meeting and got through all the petals on the flower.
Living in community means learning from each other and appreciating our differences. It may drive us crazy the way that other people do things sometimes, but if the job gets done well, then that is what matters. We may actually learn that our way is not always the best or most efficient way, and taking time to find out why people do things the way that they do is often a good way for us to learn. If we have listened carefully to them, it is also more likely that people will listen to our suggestions about doing things differently, when they feel as though they are understood and appreciated. There is a technique called “walking around the statue.” If we only stand in front of a statue, we only get to see it from one perspective. We need to walk all the way around it to appreciate all the detail and the fullness of the sculptor’s work. In the same way, if we are willing to listen to the experience and opinions of others who have a different perspective on a situation or problem, we can increase our own knowledge and understanding. This week, perhaps we could each sit with someone who moves through the world in a different way from us, and see if we can learn a new way of being human.