Restoring a brother

“If your brother sins against you, you should confront him about it in private. If he listens to you, you have won him back. But if he won’t listen to you, then take one or two other people with you to speak with him again, so that these witnesses may be able to establish the truth. If he still won’t listen, then tell the congregation. If he won’t listen even then, treat him as you would treat an unbeliever or a tax collector.”

“I’ll share this truth with you – whatever you unite on earth is united in heaven, and whatever you let go on earth is let go in heaven. Here’s another truth – if two of you agree about anything that you pray for then my Father in heaven will do it for you. Wherever two or three people gather together in my name, I am there with them.”

MT 18:15-20


To reconcile is to make your checkbook work out. The debts and credits need to be entered. The balance that you have needs to match the balance that the bank has.

Reconciliation is also between people. The good (the deposits) and the bad (the withdrawals) need to be entered. If you pretend that all is well while harboring a grudge, you are imbalanced. Your relationship is unhealthy.

Jesus tells us that if we have issue with someone, we need to go make peace with them before we take our gifts to the altar. We have to get straight with others before we get straight with God. We take our gifts to the altar to “pay” for our sins and our wrongdoings. We don’t have the Temple or the altar anymore, but the idea is the same. We don’t have to “pay” for our sins with sacrifices anymore either – Jesus has picked up that tab. But we still have to do the work of balancing the relationship checkbooks.

I’m also reminded of the work of John the Baptist – “Make straight the way of the Lord.” He came to make things easier, to warm people up. He was Jesus’ opening act, if you will. He made it possible for Jesus to come.

Reconciliation does that. It makes it possible for God to come among us. When we make peace – when we do the work of making peace – then we make straight the way of the Lord. We make a path for God to come in. It isn’t something we wait on, passively. We have to do the work. If we want healing, we have to be healers. If we want peace, we have to be peacemakers.

God can only get in when we open the door.

Cure for violence

We’ve had too many examples of people becoming violent and randomly killing people. This isn’t something that is going to go away unless we make it go away. It is a weed that takes many years to grow. We have the ability to eradicate it in the future. Here are some of my ideas about a cure for violence. Some of this I wrote a few years ago, after a rash of these occurrences.

Just like with treating toddlers -ignore the bad behavior and reward the good. Don’t publicize the name of the criminal, the perpetrator. Lets’ not have a payoff.

Notice and acknowledge people. Everybody needs to know that they count. When you see someone who is a loner, make contact with them. Befriend them. It isn’t easy. But it is essential. It is part of this “love your neighbor” thing we are supposed to do.

Remove, discourage violence in the media. Games and movies that depict violence should not be bought. They should not be made, but we can’t control that. Take away the demand, then the supply will go away. I’m not about making laws for these things. Make it illegal and you’ve made it taboo. Make it taboo and you’ve made it desirable. Kids want what they can’t have. Rather, we need to watch what we consume.

We need to make it socially unacceptable for people to play war in their spare time. Especially kids, who don’t have the maturity to understand reality from unreality. How can you know what is real when you never see it? “Reality TV” isn’t. It is over the top, scripted, and fake, much like our celebrities. We have created a society of artifice, where we celebrate the un-real.

We need healthy outlets for emotions. We bottle them up and suppress our real emotions. Everything is supposed to be fine in our society, and this just isn’t normal. We don’t have a way to process pain. We need that. It has to get out.

I’m not advocating gun control. I’m advocating people control.

Is it that we have more violence these days, or that we are just so connected that we can’t help but see it? And why don’t we see a balance of “good” stories? Surely just as much good is happening.

Stuck again. Maybe I never left.

I’m tired of being thankful. I’m tired of feeling like I’m stuck in the belly of the whale. I’m tired, and angry, and frustrated, and I want to quit. I want to quit it all. I want to retreat to a safe warm hole and curl up and wait until the winter of my own personal discontent passes or at least thaws. I envy bears.

I’m tired of the fact that I’ve taken all these classes to learn how to be compassionate to other people and they don’t seem to have taken the same time or effort to learn how to be compassionate towards me. Pastoral care, two series of Dialogues in Diversity, The Circle Process, and then Remo Health Rhythms drum circle facilitator – all of these are about peacemaking. All of them are about learning how to help people communicate in different ways. Even my tutoring that I do feeds into this. Yet nobody seems to take the time to learn how to communicate with me.

I feel betrayed by my job, which then leads me to remembering that I was betrayed by my church and my social group I was in, and my friends from high school. There have been too many changes in the past few years. Too many new things. Too many new rules that don’t make sense. Too many people trained and gone. Too much to keep up with. And now there is a new manager that has a communication and leadership style that I don’t know how to deal with. I can’t make sense of it. I feel lost.

My last performance review said that I was the reason the department held together for the year that we didn’t have a manager. A year, without a manager, and we were better organized than branches that had a manager. I’ve been there for 14 years, and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what we need to have done day by day to keep the place going well. I care about my job. I care, in part, because I’m there all the time it seems. This is my home in a way. I’m awake there more often than I am at my real home. I spend more time with these people than I do with the person I chose.

And that is part of the problem. I didn’t choose these people, and they didn’t choose me. We are a misfit family. We didn’t decide to be together. We learned how to work together. We learned how to adapt. And then it all changed. People moved, got transferred, died. People left, and I’m the only person in my department who was there from the very beginning. Even the upper administration is new. Everything that I knew to be true is up in the air now. Even basic rules – rules that formed the backbone of how we do our jobs – even those are up for grabs now.

I feel lost. I feel alone. I feel powerless. I feel unappreciated. I’m angry and sad and tired.

Perhaps I’ve been there too long. Perhaps I’ve grown out of it. Perhaps it is time to quit. But part of being at a place for a long time is that I’ve built up a lot of vacation time and sick time. If I start over at another place I start over at the bottom. I’ve built up a pension here. But the idea of staying another 13 years until I can retire makes me feel ill.

And after all that happened yesterday, I came home and that was the day that my hoarder husband decided to start cleaning out his room. Piles of stuff were all over the house. The mess that is my house got even worse. It was like a tornado had come to town and destroyed my job and my home.

In a way, I’ve hit rock bottom. In a way, I’ve killed myself. I asked Jesus into it, as far as I knew how. I said I can’t do this, and I need you to take over. I did this last night, trying to use the information one person has about “walk-ins”. I’m pretty sure she is talking about multiple personality disorder or possession, but I’m thinking that Jesus is a better guide than some random person from the ether like she means. I’d forgotten about this by the morning, and then both of the readings I did were about death and rebirth. So far I’ve remembered to say the prayers for everything I’m supposed to. So far I’m getting back into the groove of all the things that I can control, that make things work well. The worst thing I can do is try to deal with an unstable environment without my routine in the morning. It is the framework for my day, and thus my life.

I don’t know what to do – whether to stay or to go. I don’t know what my duties are at work anymore. So I’m waiting, and I’m open, and I’m listening. Perhaps stay in the system, but doing a different job? Perhaps stay where I am, but do more programs? I need to feel useful, that I’m not wasting my life and my skills. I need to feel that I matter, and I’m helping. I don’t just want to collect a paycheck, but make a living, a life. I’m very mindful of how short life is, and I don’t want to spend most of it doing something mindless and insignificant.

I’m tired of living this double life, where I take classes and create art, music, and writing on my own. It is like I have a second job that I don’t get paid for. It is as if I have to supplement my diet on my own because I’m not getting enough nutrition. If I was “fed” properly at my job, then I could actually enjoy my time away from it, rather than scrambling to make meaning in my off time.

Sobriety sucks sometimes.

Circle reading list

Interested in the Circle process for conflict resolution? Here’s a list of books that are helpful.

Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture. Christine Baldwin.

The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair. Christine Baldwin & Ann Linnea.

Doing Democracy with Circles: Engaging Communities in Public Planning. Jennifer Ball, Wayne Caldwell & Kay Pranis.

The Millionth Circle: How to Change Ourselves and the World. Jean Shinoda Bolen.

Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth: Bringing Justice Home. Carolyn Boyes-Watson.

Heart of Hope: A Guide for Using Peacemaking Circles to Develop Emotional Literacy, Promote Healing & Build Healthy Relationships. Carolyn Boyes-Watson & Kay Pranis.

Wisdom Circle: A Guide to Self-Discovery and Community Building in Small Groups. Charles Garfield, Cindy Spring & Sedonia Cahill.

The Little Book of Circle Processes. Kay Pranis.

Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Kay Pranis, Barry Stuart & Mark Wedge.

Circle in the Square: Building Community and Repairing Harm in School. Nancy Riestenberg.

Building a Home for the Heart: Using Metaphors in Value-Centered Circles. Patricia Thalhuber, B.V.M. & Susan Thompson

The Way of the Council. Jack Zimmerman, in collaboration with Virginia Coyle.

List gotten with permission from Tracy Roberts at