When faced with disconnection in a human system, my first reflex is to inquire into the spaces that are available for this group to be together.
I am not referring to a perfect space, nor a space that will be perfectly held or facilitated, not even a space with predictable outcomes. Indeed, sometimes the disconnection occurs because there is simply no room to actually grow and be together.
I put this strategy to use with my dear extended family. We are spread across three separate continents and carry vastly different worldviews. For many years, the modus operandi of our family was simply to meet up for weddings and other special family occasions. We cared for each other, but I had a dawning realization that we were simply shadows in each other’s lives. In response, I created a monthly family chat that was loosely facilitated. Through this smallest of spaces, lines began to strengthen and I slowly began to feel like I had an extended family again. The magical moments just seemed to appear:
- The grandmother who shared she was lonely, and in response received an offer for weekly chats with her step-child.
- A cousin who felt safe enough to cry and share her truth.
- Simple moments of laughter and musical sharing.
In terms of facilitation, I offer this group simple prompts. What is a song that represents where you are right now? What is something valuable you learned from your mother? What is a goal for the upcoming year? These prompts exist to offer the opportunities for simple shares at different levels of comfort.
The group also brings up the inevitable frustration and sadness that also exists in family systems. While this is difficult, it also offers a clear understanding of what healing is still needed.
Like so many things, it can be so easy to simply not create something because it won’t be ‘good enough’. The thing with space is that it is intrinsically imperfect and unpredictable, and thus all the more beautiful.
Are there spaces in your life that need to be created?