DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Bubbles

Written by: on September 25, 2020

A pandemic spanning across the planet, caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS) Corona-Virus 2, is a new challenge for us, as a global community, to navigate through. Residents of North Americans saw the virus infecting and killing multitudes as it rounded the globe last winter. Upon arrival in our respective cities (and, recall that day) everything changed. Suddenly, there was a solidarity that spanned oceans and crossed borders, as slogans like ‘We are in this Together’ started to emerge. Suddenly, the attention was on leadership everywhere. What was going to happen next? How would we carry on from that point? Everything became bubbles.

Fear was in the messaging, in the early days of COVID-19. Directives like ‘self-evaluate for symptoms’, ‘self-isolate’, ‘wash and scrub your hands’, ‘wear a mask’, ‘sterilize all surfaces’ and ‘remain at least 6ft away from another’, to name a few of them, were common soundbites on news media, on newspaper headlines every day and pinned by posters to walls in every public space. Prior to acquiring the virus, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, encouraged the proper length of a good hand wash to be the span of 20 seconds or so and, best if done to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday to you’1. In these early days of the pandemic, other ideas for best hygiene practise and health-preservation arose, the most famous being ‘social distancing’ which, eventually was referred to as ‘the Bubble’ or even, ‘bubbling’.

The concept of ‘the bubble’ arose from the advice of national health authorities for people to protect a space between themselves and others of no less than 6ft (or, 2m). ‘The bubble’ has become ‘a powerful tool of pandemic response enforcement’2, even though it may come across as sounding ‘non-scientific, vaguely frivolous, lighter than air and a bit silly.’3While the ‘Bubble’ idea is intended to encourage isolation in order to protect one’s physical integrity from the virus, its analogy can be extended in other ways as well.

The space that bubbles encapsulate is intended to be kept as a safe area. The bubble represents a boundary layer around a person and, with it, the hope that it (the bubble) will be both acknowledged (its presence) and respected (its integrity).

Renner and D’Souza consider leaders as ‘holding space’4. Holding space, in the context of community and organisation, in the time of the ‘bubble’, requires a deeper sensitivity and attention. Every space is an anxious space. Employment and health are never guaranteed and, less so now. Equality is never a guarantee and, less so now. Truth is never a guarantee and, evidently less so now. May our leadership be defined by caring gently, with wisdom and may we engage the world with a well-informed empathy.

Trust cannot be forced; it can only be nurtured. In his article, What Does It Mean/Look Like to Hold Space for Someone, John Kim defines ‘holding space’ as a:

…means to be with someone without judgment. To donate your ears and heart               without wanting anything back. To practice empathy and compassion. To accept someone’s truth, no matter what they are. To allow and accept. Embrace with two hands instead of pointing with one finger. To come in neutral. Open. For them. Not you. Holding space means to put your needs and opinions aside and allow someone to just be. Her. Self.5

Leaders can lead with open hands and vulnerable enough to welcome and to listen alone. With one syllable spoken, breath can be taken. One syllable of a response can generate anxiety; the space is ‘let go’ and dropped. Sometimes, beyond the inclination to hold an individual, a leader can simply be the space in which one can be held. The bubbles we are in, hold us in safety. When these are ignorantly breached, anxiety will be presented and an oppressive force felt; there will never be breakthrough. May the way we express ourselves be mindful of those we care for and, that the space we hold and represent, in these ‘less’ times, be safe.

Bibliography

  1. “Boris Johnson Sings Happy Birthday While Washing His Hands.” March 6, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWfZGdLeDl4.
  2. Brean, Joseph. “COVID-19: As Canadians Look to Social Recovery, the Multi-Household Bubble Catches On.” National Post. April 27, 2020. https://nationalpost.com/news/0428-na-bubbles.
  3. Brean. “COVID-19: As Canadians Look to Social Recovery.”
  4. Renner, Diana and Steven D’Souza. Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action.New York, New York: LID Publishing Limited, 2018.
  5. Kim, John. “What Does It Mean/Look Like to Hold Space for Someone?: A Crucial Tool for Life Coaches and Relationships.’ Psychology Today. October 29, 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-angry-therapist/201910/what-does-it-meanlook-hold-space-someone

About the Author

mm

Chris Pollock

Dad of Molly Polly Pastor at the Mustard Seed Street Church Trail Runner

8 responses to “Bubbles”

  1. mm Greg Reich says:

    Chris,
    Your statement “a leader can simply be the space in which one can be held.” reminds me of raising 3 daughters. My son often needed a safe place to fix what was bothering him and often wanted advice. With my daughters they often just wanted a safe place not to fix anything but to process emotions. This often entailed crawling up on my lap and crying as I held them close. I never said a word nor tried to fix anything. To this day they thank me for just letting them feel. As leaders we often try to fix everyones problems when actually the wisest thing may be to just give them space to heal.

  2. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    Chris, can you elaborate on what you mean by, “Every space is an anxious space.” Maybe I’m triggered by superlatives, but I’m not following you at that moment. Thanks.

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      I’m triggered by them too. And, drop them with intention. Right or wrong, the point was to create an ‘un-ease’ (set the vibe)moving into the next sentences.

      Perhaps, better written is ‘can be’ or ‘could be’…still, my hope was ‘anxiety’ in the writing of it as it is.

  3. mm John McLarty says:

    This is a powerful post. There is something sacred in being fully present with/for someone else. And we’ve seen how difficult it is do when we are separated from each other. On the one hand, the bubbles are intended to protect us. On the other, bubbles can keep up apart. We’re seeing more and more what a gift it is to hold space for another. What are some ways you’ve been able to do this even while maintaining a necessary and healthy distance?

  4. mm Dylan Branson says:

    I was watching a show some of my kids recommended to me a few weeks ago called Black Clover (it’s a Japanese anime about magical knights). During one episode, the protagonists were trying to find reach a water temple to find a magic stone and the only way to get there was to create a magic bubble. One of the characters was tasked with creating this bubble – a safe space – and was struggling to do so because of her own insecurities. But with the support of the main character, she was finally able to control her magic and perform.

    What I found interesting in relation to your post how we exude a presence – our own bubble. Does our bubble induce anxiety? Or does it induce peace and safety?

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      Yes, a peculiar and complicated thing…insecurity. The inner world of terror and peaceful places.

      I appreciate your questions. No easy answers other than perhaps, it depends?

      Time to jump into a bubble and hopefully, at least, exude a peaceful presence! Hoping only a slight bit of an anxious presence in moments. We are all just humans trying to make our way; step by step, day to day, eh! Grace.

  5. mm Jer Swigart says:

    Chris.

    I really love the idea of pastoring as bubbling. Holding space for a person to be as they are. Free judgement. Full of generosity. Seasoned with curisoity. And shimmering the belief in the person’s journey to become more like Jesus. I think you did that this week with your indigenous sister. I think you do this very naturally with all of us. What is your mindset as you enter into these kinds of moments. How do you remain present such the bubbling can occur?

Leave a Reply