Tree of Life: Part Two
I want you to consider what will be the state of this castle, so beautiful and resplendent this Orient pearl, this tree of life, planted in the living waters of life–namely, in God–when the soul falls into a mortal sin. (Teresa of Avila: First Mansions, Chapter Two – emphasis mine)
Andy and Rachel were high school sweethearts. Shortly after their senior year Rachel discovered she was pregnant. Afraid of her parent’s reaction she hid her pregnancy as long as possible. When her parents found out, they were understanding but “needed to tell their pastor”. The pastor said this was serious and needed to take it to the church board. The “wise men” of the board discussed this situation carefully, quoted scripture, prayed, feigned disbelief, and impressed each other with their wisdom. They finally concluded, as they always do, this was a “serious and public sin” requiring the offenders to confess their sin in front of the church. Having settled that issue the “wise men” moved to the next topic: Can the bride wear white at her wedding?
The response to stories like this is almost always outrage. How could this board be so callused? Strangely this is quickly followed by a caveat: “These leaders are a product of their system and only did what they knew to do — they could not have come to a different conclusion.” I disagree. As leaders we have a responsibility to transcend systemic enculturation. It is essential we create space to develop our own thinking rather than simply mirroring the institution. This distance allows us make course corrections in our own lives and gain wisdom to influence changes in whatever institution we are in. Reading is a good start. Outside perspectives give guidance. But most important, as leaders, we must gain insight that comes only through prayer, meditation, silence, and reflection. This will help us shape quality institutions and be a “tree of life” to those we lead.
Conquer — in the stillness,
‘In order for the eye to perceive color, it must divest itself of all colors’. (Dag Hammarskjold)