He poured the bowl full of water, then held it out, balanced on his palm, fingers angled down and away from the thick bronze base. Slowly, he moved the wooden mallet around the edge. Expecting the resonance of the singing bowl, I was shocked to see sparkles of water emerge from the rim. As he continued, water suddenly splashed up, bursting into the space above the bowl, and drenching his face and front. Laughing, he pointed out the obvious: with water in the bowl, the energy of resonance became visible.
John Paul Lederach was talking about the power of resonance in relationship and community. Just as the water makes the invisible sound waves into waves that can be seen and touched, intentional efforts of a community to find points of resonance around a conflict can become visible in their power to shape the lives of community members.
He gave the example of a region in Nepal that had been divided by serious conflicts over land and forests. Through careful relationship building, conversation, and negotiation over time, this community found a way to come together to discuss their issues and find a solution that everyone could live with. He showed a picture of the different groups sitting together in one negotiation space - something that even a few months before could never have happened.
This resonance, he says, is the coming together of voices in a space where all are heard and all valued. There's an incredible power in that space, just as in the singing bowl.
The circle of caring human connection in community, then, creates this opportunity for healing energy abounding. What is this energy? I'd like to call it the work of the Spirit, alive and resonating through our little efforts at reconciling - God present with us, even in the difficult and unknown work of living through conflict.