Metaphors nourish me, especially in my life as a mediator. In addition to pure pleasure and cognitive calories, they help raise into consciousness some of the mysteries of the mediation process. Against plenty of evidence to the contrary, I live in hope that awareness leads to clarity and effective intervention.
One of the ineffables is what happens when the muddle and mess of conflict laid out on the table gradually transforms and emerges as bright new solutions and consensus. After decades of practice it still feels like magic.
I recently rediscovered a popular poem called “The Thought-Fox.” Ted Hughes describes the slow and mysterious emergence of a fox in winter; he is also talking about the creation of a poem. He describes the approach of a glowing eye:
“A widening deepening greenness,
Coming about its own business.”
Richard Webster, a critic, interprets Hughes’s poetic vision as “the conflict between violence and tenderness.” http://www.richardwebster.net/tedhughes.html
Mediation allows participants to bridge the gap dividing competition and collaboration, and to reconnect with those preservationist impulses to be kind and generous with one another. Mediator neutrality and respect for self-determination ensures that the people we work with “come about [their] own business.” Seeing a fox stirs us with primal responses; witnessing conflict transformation is also a profound and energizing privilege.