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21 March, 2016

The power of vulnerability

Creators of Peace ran three Peace Circles in partnership with St Michael’s House, the new base for Coventry Cathedral’s Ministry of Reconciliation. Haley Jones took part:

Peace Circle in Coventry
I recently passed the halfway mark of my one year experience on Coventry Cathedral’s Reconciliation Ministry Team. Every day I find myself embracing new challenges, but as I reflect on the last six months, I constantly find myself returning to a breath prayer on the word vulnerability. It is not an easy word to allow the deepest parts of you to soak in. It has always been a hoped for embodiment in my own life but has remained a challenging reality that is blocked by a fear of being misunderstood or a failure to measure up to expectations. My time working at Coventry Cathedral has provided me with numerous opportunities to face areas of vulnerability that have ultimately shaped my understanding of being a peacemaker who is deeply committed to partnering with people in the messiness of our world.

Sitting in circle with a diverse group of women from Coventry was one of the most valuable experiences that showed me the transformative power of learning to be vulnerable and reminded of the simple yet powerful effect of authentic and sincere presence on building strong relationships and communities. It is not an easy practice to engage your own vulnerability, and I wonder if it is particularly taxing for women where there is a stigma associated with being too vulnerable (ie too emotional). The Peace Circles that are sponsored by Creators of Peace offered me an opportunity to engage wholeheartedly with my own vulnerability by giving me space to ask questions of myself and share pieces of my own story in an environment that was affirming yet challenging. I think that is where the power of vulnerability lies. When we take a chance in articulating our needs or our experiences we create room for new relationships, which is a necessary component in tackling the dominant narrative of hatred and violence against ‘the other’.

Creators of Peace in Coventry
One of my favourite writers and researchers, Brené Brown, wrote,

'Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.'

The Peace Circles were opportunities to unpack different facets of our lives as women and as peacemakers. Where are the challenges? What are our hopes? What is our next step? Each of us has a light that is worthy of shining brightly, and we can forget that in the midst of expectations that have been projected on us. The Peace Circles are an embodiment of Brené Brown’s words of grasping tightly to your own story and learning to use that as a means of becoming women who boldly, freely, and lovingly create peace in our communities and our world.

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