I want to welcome all who have entered the Engaging Impasse section of the ICCD website (www.iccdinstitute.org).

As you read Constance Fitzgerald’s quote and reflect on the picture of our planet on the opening page, you can tell that the Engaging Impasse program is about a sense of impasse experienced by those whose vision is one of transformational change in a world in which major shifts are occurring.

Impasse might not be a familiar word for you. But see if the following questions resonate with you. As you reflect on your life on this planet do you experience a sense of powerlessness, a feeling that things have gotten so complex that you don’t have the answers anymore? Do you feel a sense of futility as you continue your work of transformation, a realization that all the ways you know for effecting change and influencing others are not enough–they are not adequate–they just aren’t working? Do you experience a low-grade anger or a grief that never leaves you?

That is an experience of impasse.

Yet, you continue to believe that as a citizen of this planet you must do something about the situation in which you find yourself.

Since 2003 the Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue® program has been convening persons who are leaders in religious congregations, social justice organizations, and educational institutions, who have experienced impasse in their work for transformation either within society or within the Church. They are willing to engage that experience through a process of communal contemplation and dialogue. Circle participants gather in a week-long session to see what might emerge as they enter the experience of impasse more deeply and surrender it to the Spirit within.

Those of us participating in the program believe that God is profoundly present, even if hidden, in the darkness and pain of the impasse. That is why we engage in a process that opens ourselves to the divine energy that may spark new imagination and new ways of being and acting.

What is clear among those who have participated in the Engaging Impasse Circles is that this experience invites one to a transformation of consciousness within a communal setting. It prepares persons to approach the impasse in their lives in new and creative ways.

How to Use this Section

If this is your first visit I suggest that you read the Overview and then under Reflections the major topic entries – Contemplation, Impasse and Dialogue — in sequence as they build upon each other and draw the connections among them. These provide some understanding as to the way these concepts are understood within the program.

Other reflections deal with the Societal Context, the Ecclesial Context, Globalization, and the New Cosmology. They describe trends, current realities that influence the work for transformation and impact the experience of impasse. It may appear that these are being dealt with separately; however, the project and its design reflect the interconnection of these realities. I encourage you to read all the sections over a period of time. You will see cross references and many of the suggested resources address the interconnections.

Although I have written these reflections from my perspective I believe it represents the growing understanding of many scholars and activists throughout our globe. I want to acknowledge that my insights and work reflect the richness of their thought and experience as well as my own.

In the Seeing Through the Impasse section under Reflections you’ll find reflections by various authors which evolve from the Circle experience. They provide an opportunity to integrate what happens in the Circles with some of the other movements for transformation. The hope is that this section will nurture the ongoing transformation that is needed today.

A special feature is the Book Club which offers excerpts and questions for reflection from the book, Crucible for Change: Engaging Impasse through Communal Contemplation and Dialogue. The book (now in pdf version available through this site) is an invitation to journey with those who first entered into the unique Engaging Impasse process of communal contemplation and dialogue to engage the impasses encountered in church and society.

In the Circle Gatherings Update section you’ll find a Gallery of Pictures and other information about the Circles held over the years in the United States and Canada.

I hope you will find here a place for contemplation as each page begins with artwork and poetry. Come often and let me know what you are learning and what is attracting you from our common future. Direct your questions and comments to me at nsylvester@aol.com.

Nancy Sylvester, IHM
Executive Director, Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue®
President, Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue

© 2003-2012 Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue
Reprint with permission iccdinstitute@aol.com.

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What’s New

 2014 Schedule

Engaging Impasse: Circles of Contemplation and Dialogue®

To Be Announced

To receive more information when the 2014 Circles are scheduled,
contact iccdinstitute@aol.com and put Circle Inquiry in the subject line.