What to do with all the darkness?

A reflection by the Rev Dr Rob Voyle (Clergy Leadership Institute)

I have just returned from the Episcopal General convention where I had a promotional booth and had an opportunity to briefly introduce people to the Appreciative Way.

Over the years I have had many 30 second elevator speeches to describe the Appreciative Way. Here is my current version which seemed to strike a chord with people:

“There is much darkness in the world?” (Which elicits a nod and agreement from most people.)

“So here is what we do:

We study the darkness,
we want to understand the darkness,
we write a history of the darkness,
we categorize and label various types of darkness,
we determine who is to blame for the darkness,
we punish people for the darkness,
our poets romanticize the darkness,
our theologians create theologies on the darkness,
we teach people how to embrace the darkness….

All of which doesn’t interest me a bit.

When confronted with darkness I only have one question:

Where is the Light Switch?!!!!

When confronted with darkness we need to discover and turn on the light. Trying to have less darkness or making friends with the darkness won’t work we need to turn on the light.

From a theological perspective what did Jesus come for?

Was it give us less death or was it to give us life?

The first step in all these processes is to discover the light within ourselves.

Over the years I have discovered that the simplest way to discover the light that is within us is to ask: “Beyond being with your family what do you love to do?”

Pay attention to the simple things that give a deep sense of satisfaction that may often be out of proportion to the nature of the activity. These simple things we love to do are either literally true or metaphorically true of why we are on the face of the earth. They are a basic resource pattern for how we can bring the best of ourselves to the challenges of our daily lives.

Note: Rob is my mentor and friend. Taking training from Rob in Appreciative Inquiry has been life changing both to me and to my parish ministry.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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