Community creates insights. I recently shared in conversation with a group about the issue of forgiveness. As all conversations, this one wandered and was wide ranging.
One of the men suggested that one of our problems as humans is that we make judgements about each other on too little data. He talked of how rich an experience it was when people in a group were asked to tell stories of their lives. His initial perception of them was radically altered when he heard more of the story of their lives.
I remember struggling with a colleague for several years. I was then on a retreat when he was asked to share his spiritual journey. He told of his childhood, his father who was severe in his judgment of him. He talked of his struggle to overcome the model that he had witnessed. He talked of the animating energies and his struggles with his own demons. As I listened, my heart softened and beyond that retreat, I was able to relate in a way that was healthier and more grace-filled.
Sometimes we are so committed to our perception of people that was formed at one point or another when we could only see a little of who they were. Maybe if we don't lock ourselves into those perceptions and stay curious about the larger mystery that they are, we would discover persons whom we could care for and relate to more gracefully.
I don't know about you but I hate to be judged on the basis of what I do at one or two points in my life. I want to be seen and known for the self that has lived, loved, screwed up, been forgiven, make mistakes, offered grace, received grace, been weak and wounded, been strong and capable. When I remember that I want to be seen this way, I can more likely allow myself to see others that way.
I am grateful for what I learn in community.