Select Page

Engaging Impasse

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