I’m sometimes involved in mediation.
And it’s a fool’s game, really.
You’re always waiting for someone to pull out, storm out…or simply not turn up, either physically or emotionally.
And normally one side wants it more than the other, which doesn’t help.
But it’s a fool’s game of significant nobility and wonder.
By the time the mediator arrives, everyone else wants to leave, there’s a sense of exhaustion, battles lost and won down the months or years…but no peace.
Whether it’s a marriage, a work dispute or a friendship gone sour, we gather in our exhaustion to look after the ending of something – and in so doing, we look after the beginning of something else.
Sometimes, for instance, looking after how they end their marriage is the most creative thing a couple do.
But the process asks big questions of those involved.
In life, we pay attention to our own hurt, and discriminate against the hurt of others.
Our hurt is entirely real; theirs is stupid, uncalled for, an over-reaction…not real.
We do this to protect ourselves, to protect our self-image, our ego. It’s about self-justification, about being right and about survival – forceful drives in the human animal.
But the challenge (and the glory) of the mediation process is that it asks of us something different.
It invites us out from behind our barricade to consider the hurt of the other…and our part in it.
And to witness this, if it occurs, is to witness nobility and miracle.
The mediation process treads the sometimes stony ground between the ideal and the real… in search of a new real.
To get to the new, there will need to be difficult honesty; listening; the taking of responsibility; the letting go of agendas and self-justification; and the quiet putting away of self-image such as ‘I am good’ ‘I am a victim’ ‘I am right’ etc
And who will dare take off such well-loved clothes as these? Nobility and miracle indeed…
‘We’re here to look after the end of something, and in so doing, we look after the beginning of something else. I don’t have a plan for that beginning. But I know it’s out there, if we can just look after the ending.’
It’s a fool’s game… but as Van Gogh said, ‘Heaven is for the daring.’