Transforming Conflict

Guest Edited by Heather M. Cook & Karen Reixach 
Committee on Conflict Transformation


In this issue of Spark, different voices offer different perspectives on conflict: how it might be understood, learned from, and used to strengthen us as a community. Whether on an international scale or one-on-one, the wounding we experience often feels both unique and universal. Conflict points to the need for something to change, and it will keep pointing there until change comes. Usually that change has to do with shifts in relationship, with how we treat each other and ourselves. Addressing conflict openly and creatively requires faith and commitment.


For several years, the Committee on Conflict Transformation has been meeting most weeks by phone, in person at Sessions when possible, and once or twice a year for a weekend retreat. Invariably during the retreat, conflict surfaces among us. We stumble. It often feels scary and embarrassing (“Ack, I’m being called out on my stuff!”). Perhaps it’s something that happened months or years ago, and we may feel silly for still carrying it, hearing an inner voice telling us we should just get over it. What is our own inward work to do, and what needs to be brought to the door of the person who has hurt us? 


We take a big breath, hold hands with Jesus, and step in. 


Once we’ve worked through the issue, there’s a feeling of relief and of heightened trust. We have shown up in an authentic way, offering up our layers of wounds and asking to be seen. We have acknowledged each other’s courage, both to speak and to listen. We come out the other side, full of hope and love.


And we will stumble again.


What an amazing laboratory! How great that we get to practice what we seek to assist others to do. We experience how hard it can be—and how rewarding.