Capacity to Be in The Unresolved

I love the higher view, this one above taken from seat 17A on a flight returning to Utah last week. It’s approaching Salt Lake City from the south (and eventually looping around to land from the north), looking over the Oquirrh Mountains and into bits of the actual Great Salt Lake.

I’ve been noticing a collage of common themes lately, from broader view if you will. Some of it from the group hosting that I’ve been in. Some of it from listening to others in their group hosting.

The common themes include tension, intensity, wound (historical + current), complexity. Sometimes there are closely-related themes like grief, inner and outer conflict, caution, protection.

Some of the “what” that is often named is about long and historical realities, that have been often denied. The “what” includes diversity, equity, inclusion, power, privilege, facility, justice. I’ve learned that what is often behind the “what” are the realities (yet so often ignored) of historical colonization (taking lands presumed empty) — it’s imposed transactional ownership. So often what is behind the “what” is also the reality of slavery (so many shadow sides of capitalist roots).

It’s a lot right.

Here’s what I’m noticing in my facilitation and in hearing it from others. All of these topics are important. And, I think all of them matter in the context of day to day gatherings. That’s what coming into awareness entails. It’s true for individuals with the deep, and often not fully resolved stories that many of us carry. It’s true for groups with the denied and avoided aspects of culture that have created difference, othering, dehumanization, and a bunch of other rather intense and ugly cultural patterns.

When an event is named with purpose to explicitly take on such things, yup, that one is going to need some unique and deliberate container to hold some messiness. And, I’ve learned, in such circumstances there often is some messiness that needs to be outside of the container. Sometimes it’s the realness of anger. Or hurt. Or disregard.

When an event is not named with such explicit purpose, I’ve learned that often what is needed is container again (I rely a lot on circle) to hold us in the unrevsolvedness of it all. We don’t repair centuries or millennia of injustice in an hour meeting. We don’t make it all right. We don’t resolve or absolve wound and injustice in an afternoon, nor in a weekend. What feels honest to me about what we (sometimes facilitators, sometimes hosts, sometimes community) can do, is come into more relationship of what is inherently unresolved.

This is deep human capacity work. And it takes honesty to be willing to be in relationship with it. It’s not just my brain that will convince me to trust dogs when I’ve been attacked before. It’s not just my brain that will convince me to not fear the hot stove when I’ve been burned before, or when the people I know have been burned.

The work of coming into relationship with our fears, our scar tissues, our worries — and to know that it isn’t likely that these will be resolved — this is so much the deep work of community and groups and nations these days. It’s the capacity to know there will always be some inherent unresolved in which we can meet each other, that I believe is a key starting point for evolving together in more honest and lasting personal and communal change.

I’m glad to be part of seeing the collage. And inviting attention to what lays beneath the surface in these rather complex human psyches through with we live, in times like these.


Try To Love The Questions

(Photo from


In the last two weeks I’ve been in two circumstances looking for the Rilke quote below. Time to catch it here.

Rilke was an Austrian poet living in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His work, “Letters to a Young Poet” are often referenced for their call to inquiry and deeper consciousness.

In both of the circumstances I was in, I was looking for this phrase about “being patient,” about “loving the questions themselves,” and about “living into the insights.” In both circumstances, I wanted to encourage people to be in the journey, to give themselves to the whole of it that changes us over time. I so trust the invisible found in the less immediate.

Rilke wrote in a letter to a young protege,

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Here’s to the journey, and the courage to be patient in what is unsolved.