By Jamie Deering, director of programs ministry | Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls
“Graceful Conversations: Staying grounded in the midst of difficult conversations” is a series of sessions that will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 10, 17, 24 and Nov. 7 at the Franciscan Welcoming House, 1600 11th Ave. S., St. Cloud.
The idea behind this series is that life is a spiritual journey and we are all interconnected in it. We want to connect with others; we’re wired for it. And often, when we find ourselves in conversations or relationships where there are very different views points, we simply don’t know how to stay grounded in a sense of connection. We move into opinion and telling; waiting to speak rather than listening. It happens to all of us. Conversations get bogged down in what is being said or how it’s being said rather than the connection of one human to another. We get stuck and we don’t know what to say. We leave the conversation and sometimes, in frustration, we walk away from the relationship. We are experiencing a world that doesn’t quite know how to stay internally grounded amid a constant bombardment of chaos.
This workshop began as a question, “What do I say to this person right now?” It was the middle of COVID and I was standing in a small-town grocery store listening to someone suggest a violent act against the Washington state governor because we were asked to wear masks. I was shocked and silenced in an inability to know how to respond. This sent me on a quest and some training. The ultimate question became, “How do I take back the power I’m giving away (when I don’t act) and live into the belief that we are all connected in love?” The invitation landed with my ability to stay grounded, no matter what the other is doing. That’s a life skill and one we want to give others through this series.
How do we reframe thoughts like: “They are so wrong,” or “I don’t see it that way,” or “How can they think that?” This series brings it back to the inner quest – understanding where I go when it becomes uncomfortable, learning ways to stay inwardly listening and practical skills for finding common ground in compassion, mercy and grace. At its heart, it’s about stepping into a compassionate response in the world for self and others – as a transforming agent for camaraderie, community, and ongoing connection.
We hope every person will leave feeling empowered to respond with compassion and have practiced responses to take into their relationships. We have two bonus sessions designed for additional practice of what we’ve learned. This will be a safe space to come explore vulnerably. To be real. To experience hope. We hope it might lead to answering the phone the next time that someone calls, extending a coffee invitation, or even inviting them to a holiday meal.
IF YOU GO…
Jamie Deering, contemplative and spiritual director, and Franciscan Sister Michelle L’Allier, retreat leader, will lead participants in a safe space to explore and learn with one another. Questions that will be explored are: how do we stay rooted in love (for ourselves and others) in our relationships and in our conversations, how and where do we find common ground and how do we move toward acceptance, care and reconciliation?
Offered both in-person and on Zoom, the investment is $40. (Scholarships are available.) The fee includes two optional bonus sessions Nov. 14 and 21 for participants to practice with the group what they learned.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 320-632-0680.