The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. (Isaiah 35.1)
Reaching a point of impasse can be excruciatingly painful. It is , at least in part, the pain which accompanies exhausting our human resources. It is a time when nothing is working….when the possibility of superficial consensus falls away and the door to a way forward seems firmly shut in our face.
This seems so unfair and frustrating when we are seeking and searching in good faith with all the inner and outer resources we have at our disposal.
We may come to see ourselves in a light which is hardly flattering and others appear as obstacles who stand in our way rather than trusted companions . We may come to a place of real despair where we want to retreat to an easier past or blast through all barriers to relieve the intolerable tension of delay.
Impasse is excruciating because it is the cross of our own plans, agendas and solutions. It is the hard bare place where we wait on some new thing we have not imagined, over which we have no control. (Patricia Loring).
Yet impasse is not stasis but a potential point of transition from human to divine creativity, a stopping point in a longer journey. It is the place where our love for each other is tested and found to be stronger than formerly realised in the years when things went so smoothly. Here we can come to recognise that the resources of the Spirit are inexhaustible and guidance is ever available. This is not just wishful thinking for in the history of Friends it has been proven again and again to be a spiritual fact. As we wait in the Light with our friends we become tender, more compassionate and a new trust in the Spirit and each other emerges. When way does open (and it definitely will) we have been changed, maybe subtly, but changed nevertheless.
The guidance and empowerment may not come in specific meetings (though they have their place) but in the larger context of our life together, in Worship, in social gatherings, in surprising intuitions and events which arrive out of the blue.
When conflict comes, as it does, and the temptation to compromise – to seek consensus – is resisted, the sense of divine guidance is unmistakably registered. New possibilities for a way forward which nobody has thought of emerge out of discussion. Postponement and delay settle minds and assist the process of coming to a united mind. Above all, those who take opposing views come to find that the discipline of waiting has mysteriously united them.(John Punshon)