About a year into my time as a lay volunteer in Uganda, I found myself in the middle of a number of conflicts that I had not anticipated. I was confused and sad, unsure of how to proceed.
I wrote a rather conflicted email to the director of our program, the remarkable Fr. Tom Smith, CSC, who was then living in the United States. In retrospect, I was, in that email, trying to evade my responsibility in the situation. I was trying to hand Tom my problems.
Fr. Tom, in his characteristically thoughtful wisdom, handed them right back. (The subject line of his response was aptly named “Your Conflicts.”) He affirmed the goodness of all involved and helped me see the situation in a fuller context, but let me know that I was now a part of the conflict and it was up to me to act, in love, toward a resolution.
I have often considered the kind justice of his response. I was invited to stop the externalization of blame and the evasion of responsibility. Once I accepted the ground that I was on, I was freed to work generously toward a solution.