When we overlay design principles onto complex human endeavours, like creating community, we must leave space for truly human experiences in our design.

Designing for thriving includes a whole-hearted experience of human frailty and human restoration, the link is forgiveness.

As we walk together, we will always let each other down, drown in the hurt-of-it-all, and find brokenness.  Can we be brave?  Can we hold a wide space for Great Grace?

This week I experienced forgiveness, which is truly a practice of promise, as we design for thriving.

Islands of Sanity

Margaret Wheatley, in her new book Who Do We Choose to Be? encourages us to invest in the local community because of its powerful capacity to be an “island of sanity” in an increasingly complex and destructive culture.

She defines the work of leadership as:

  • every member a leader and a community that supports every member becoming a leader.
  • leaders must become more human human beings.  It is an internal transformational journey.
  • leaders must think critically and reasonably in order to adapt quickly and always project a vision that encourages the grassroots creation of positive alternatives.

If we are all leaders and we are all responsible for our own inner transformation and offering positive alternatives to the culture-at-hand, then we all need to practice forgiveness.

Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

History’s Examples

When my son studied Nelson Mandela in university last term, he came home at Christmas hailing him one of the greatest leaders of the 20th C.

Of course, I queried, “Why?”

He paused thoughtfully and stated simply, “radical forgiveness.”

What a powerful assertion.  Amidst the devastation of the 20th Century’s wars and destruction, there are examples of leadership. The kind of leadership that finds its power in forgiveness.

What happened during Mandela’s 27 years of imprisonment that inspired him to dismantle apartheid, tackle institutional racism, and lead a racial reconciliation process?  It’s enough for me to take on the 625 pages to understand in some small way this Long Walk to Freedom through forgiveness.

In Schools and Homes

How do we practice forgiveness in our homes and schools? We have to be open-hearted. We have to be honest. It takes great courage.

Sometimes these practices will lead to full and complete reconciliation, sometimes they won’t. But, we have to keep trying. Love never gives up.

As parents and teachers, our sacred work includes modelling this for children. We can’t expect them to be able to practice asking for, offering, and receiving forgiveness unless we practice it as adults. It is such a vulnerable place. Yet, when we hold hands watered with tears, our humble hearts move forward with a new sense of purpose and vision impossible only moments before.

For the sake of the children,