Honouring and handling the moment of change
Change, in all its forms and sizes, is constantly challenging us. The way we handle change determines whether we grow and deepen, or wither into despair or bitterness. American Christian Brother Patrick Sean Moffett tackles this key topic in his article Change and Resilience in the Here and Now, in the Fall 2011 issue of HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. Using the image of “standing at the threshold”, he focuses on honouring “a single moment of personal engagement” right in the midst of change, “the moment between what was and what will be”. He points out that the threshold itself, the present moment, “holds a treasure that will be missed with too rapid a change.”
Using as icons a series of three photographs taken after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti by photo journalist Carl Juste, photos “that would permit his people and himself to hope in a better tomorrow”, the article suggests “an initial sorting of whatever might be presenting itself as individuals encounter altered realities.”
The first photo, entitled Sacred Ruins, shows a devastated church, its front end crumbled into a mountain of rubble around an intact and prominent wayside crucifix. The writer sees in this an image of closure, of what one needs to absorb before moving past.
The second photo, First Step, shows amputees in a tent ward, finding joy in the first steps taken by two of their number with newly fitted prostheses. It is used as an image of re-invention – the mustering of the will, based on “stable aspects of the individual’s life” such as purpose, self-image, and a sense of competency.
The third photo, Leg Up, shows an amputee doing a handstand, his well-mastered prosthesis laid aside for the moment. The writer uses this as an image of resilience and refers to the ‘casita’ model explored in his Summer 2010 article, The Resilience of the Disciple, in the same publication, with its foundational storey of purpose and belonging, its upstairs storey of esteem and agency, and its protective attic of humour, lending flexibility.
The article goes on to explore the range of individual variations between each of the qualities depicted as rooms in the ‘casita’: purpose vs purposelessness, belonging vs alienation, self-esteem vs self-denigration, agency vs passivity, and humour vs rigidity.
Though the article may be primarily directed at the writer’s fellow psychologists and professional counsellors, his reflections on the series of photos offer possibilities anyone navigating major personal change, and especially teachers and parents and others who play a part in guiding others through such experience.
The full article may be read in the Fall 2011 edition of HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (Volume 32 No. 3) which is now also available online. To order an on-line subscription (at $24 for a year, from any country, payable by credit card) go to www.humandevelopmentmag.org or order a postal subscription ($49 in USA, $53 foreign, payable by credit card or in US dollars drawn on a US Bank) from PO Box 3000, Dept HD, Denville NJ 07834.
The photos may also be found at http://irisphotocollective.com under the heading: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Carl Juste, March 2010.
Brother Patrick Sean Moffett, a contributor to HUMAN DEVELOPMENT and several other publications, was featured in a Profile on this website (July 2010) – see RECENT PROFILES.