Diversity: gifts, challenges and some implications for spiritual direction

Posted on July 11th, 2019

Suzanne Cohen joined us on 5 July for the Developing Direction event about diversity . She offers her reflections on the day, and the implications for spiritual direction - and for all of us. Please let us know if you’d be interested in continuing the conversation. We definitely are…

The day was moving and heart opening. To demonstrate how the gifts and challenges of diversity impact upon a spiritual direction session, the presenters courageously, honestly and powerfully, shared their life stories with great compassion for themselves and those hearing their words.

The morning opened with quiet contemplation and a welcoming prayer by Mary Mrozowski. We acknowledged that diversity is a natural and integral feature of Gods created world and something that should be a source of enrichment and pleasure, but it is not. Instead, the experience of human diversity makes us uncomfortable because we have been educated to construct our identities according to a set of beliefs that assign us to either a superior privileged or inferior oppressed group.

We explored what the word diversity meant to us and how living in a diverse world influenced the way in which we lived. Why we asked, has human diversity become such an issue? Why does the experience and exploration of diversity make us so uncomfortable, when diversity is, what God created? How can we re-educate ourselves and others to embrace diversity as a good thing?

It was suggested that we begin our re-education by developing equanimity, so that from this calm centred place in God, we could be with our pain and uncomfortableness. Throughout the day, there was plenty of opportunity to break up into pairs to reflect on questions posed arising from what had been presented and to complete practical exercises.

As the day came to a close, we reflected on what next. Our task was clear; we needed to make a commitment to exploring and articulating the narratives which formed our identities and therefore our relationship with ourselves, others and God. Essentially, we needed to do the work of undoing centuries of deeply rooted conditioning whose aim is to preserve the power of one group over another group.

One simple way to re-educate ourselves is through reading books and blogs or watching Ted talks and other YouTube videos made by people who are different to us. In doing this, we can begin to have a conversation with ourselves, others and God, and so start the process of re-framing our human experience to align with God in taking pleasure in human diversity.

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