Working Toward Reconciliation with a Spiritual Community in Crisis

Every restorative justice project is more than a project: it’s a new conversation, a new puzzle to piece together, a new invitation for reflection and growth, together with those we walk alongside. We are always impacted by the work we do and those we engage with, but sometimes the work stretches us in unexpected ways. We recently completed such a project: a 3-year restorative justice initiative within a global religious and spiritual community in crisis. This community approached us with two fundamental questions:

  1. What is a compassionate and restorative response when we begin to confront that our community, our teachings, our institutions, and even our founder – all of which have been blessings to so many – were also sometimes responsible for harm and exploitation?
  2. How might we continue to be in community together, when we’re making meaning of this information in such vastly different ways?

The three-year journey that ensued brought us into relationship and conversation with diverse community members throughout the world, taught us about both possibility and surrender, and drew upon our deepest reservoirs of energy and imagination. While many details of the journey are not ours to share, this month we published a written case study which sketches, in broad strokes, the approach we took in partnership with this community. We were touched by the courage and heart of those we encountered here. Rooted in the core principles and concepts around which the project was oriented, we offered our heartfelt blessing to a group of newly trained restorative justice facilitators as we parted last June:

That you honor yourselves; in your strength, your woundedness and in whatever calls you to make amends. That you be proud of you who you are. That you witness your own incredible power to choose.

That you continue to truly encounter one another. Experience solidarity with each other. That you protect and provide a safe haven for each other. Experience a deepening of justice and dignity in all your relationships, extending within and far beyond this group of leaders. That you find joy in continuing to learn together.

That you be able to tell the story of your journey within your community with dignity and pride. That your meaning-making welcomes paradox and resists compromise. That you be free in the stories you want to live by. And that the stories you create be a blessing for others in their healing journey.

I invite you to read this case study, and – if this situation feels close to home – to reach out to us to explore how to bring restorative principles to life in your community context.