As 2016 draws to a close and we look ahead to next year, it seems like our world is rupturing. Divisions within society feel raw and exposed, some leaders exploit fear and desperation, and the future seems uncertain. It’s easy to feel powerless and blame others. When this happens we lose compassion and empathy, we see others as problems, not people, and this surely contributes to a cycle of fear.
Yet we have an important choice available to us. As Jesus asked “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” I fail to notice my own ‘logs’ because my ego is desperate to avoid acknowledging my vulnerability and failings. So it’s easier to see other people as stupid, deplorable, short-sighted, or gullible, than to recognize these qualities within myself. Only when I have sufficient self-awareness can I really engage with, and hopefully understand, other people to create new ways of living and working together. So in these difficult times, it’s important to turn inwards and honestly accept my own humanity in all its complexity.
Our programme offers wonderful opportunities to pause, reflect and turn inwards. Each speaker brings a particular frame of reference that can help you understand yourself, and the world around you, more expansively. From Rupert Sheldrake’s paradigm-breaking ideas on science and spirituality, to Mary Jo Radcliffe’s gentle wisdom, to Alan Combes’ pragmatic exploration of justice and holiness – we are blessed to have such diversity and depth available.
We look forward to welcoming you through 2017, and trust that together we can find connection within our turbulent world.
On behalf of the Programme Committee
24 November 2017