By Betsy Hostetler, Ph.D.
Melody Allen, my colleague and friend, flew from Houston to Washington, D.C., to get together and visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Even though the museum had been open for more than six months, it was still difficult to get tickets; people snapped them up the minute they were released.
But Melody, who is the co-director of the North American Systemic Constellations Conference with me, was able to get tickets for us, and we were both thrilled. The team from the Smithsonian, which oversees this national museum and others, said that visitors spend an average of an hour and a half in most museums, but in this one they stay up to six hours.
We arrived there early and found a long line had already formed. We could see that there’s both a hunger to see what’s inside, and a readiness to be in touch with what it holds.
Sometimes Melody and I walked together, sometimes apart. We talked about privilege, exploitation and identity.
At the beginning we talked about what we saw, but the further we dropped into the magnitude of the history, the more we walked in silence.
We found maps of migrations of people, slave ships and an embroidered gunny sack given to a young girl by her mother before they were separated. We looked into a slave cabin with no doors, no protection. We sat on the bar stools where blacks staged sit-in demonstrations in cafeterias for six months before they were allowed to eat. We saw artwork with the words, “A lie is not a shelter.”
An architectural drawing of a slave ship showed rows of berths where people were meant to sleep. A young African American couple said a few words of explanation to their seven-year-old daughter, who stood close and stared.
Her voice rising with fear, she asked, “But where do the kids sleep?”
Like a Family or Systemic Constellations session, the simple act of looking can be demanding beyond measure. But it also gives us our chance. What I loved about the museum is the same thing I love about Family and Systemic Constellations. When you tell the simple truth, you get your chance to heal.
I’m grateful that I got to see it with Melody. We talked about the weight of history and what it means for us today.
“We’re in this thing together,” she told me, and in that moment, a debilitating sense of shame that I was carrying lifted.
This fall, we’ll gather for the North American Systemic Constellations Conference from Oct. 5-8 in Virginia Beach, Va., to connect with each other, learn from each other, explore and heal.
Our conference theme is “Bridging the Divide: Healing the Personal and Collective Soul.” Bridging the divide means many things – healing for social justice, for individuals and families, for organizational systems and for wisdom traditions.
We invite each of you to focus where you are called to focus. Maybe it will even be a time to heal the hidden parts of ourselves we haven’t had the chance to care for yet. Join in, as we co-journey. We’re in this together.
Join us for the 2017 North American Systemic Constellations Conference Oct. 5-8 in Virginia Beach, Va., for health professionals, educators, business and life coaches, consultants, clergy, community activists, change makers and others interested in alternative health and innovative practices. A pre-conference is also available. More info here. We'd love to have you subscribe to our e-letter here.
Welcome to our blog, which explores what people are doing with Family and Systemic Constellations here, there and everywhere throughout North America.