Worship Sharing and Dialogue with Attention to Ouch, Oops & Whoa

[shared by Susan Marcus on the Friends for Right Relationships listserv 7/18/2021]

Worship Sharing and Dialogue with Attention to Ouch, Oops & Whoa
By: Pacific Yearly Meeting (PacYM) Racial Justice Subcommittee (RJSC) of PacYM Ministry Committee
Last updated: April 14, 2021
Welcome, dear Friend! We are excited to have you participate in the upcoming RJSC workshop. Dialogues on racism can be difficult and uncomfortable. Discomfort is natural, and is a good sign – this means we are learning and growing.
Safe Space, Brave Space
“Together we will create brave space.
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space” —
We exist in the real world.
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds…
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love.”
– Excerpt from Invitation to Brave Space Poem by Micky ScottBey Jones*
Sacred Space: Repairing the Hurt and Listening to Truth Revealed
We see our time together not only as brave space, but when hurt happens we go into sacred space where we experience deep listening, knowing that Spirit will guide us as we listen deeply, center & allow the spirit to unfold and Quaker Truth to be revealed. When a conflict occurs it is a time for us to hold Spirit and give us an opportunity to deepen our relationships to another level.
Stepping Stones into Sacred Space: Ouch, Oops and Whoa
We invite Friends to explore a process to help us identify unconscious
microaggressions and implicit bias and address their impact by deepening into sacred space, ultimately repairing harm. To this end, we offer a worship sharing and dialogue format with acknowledgment of “Ouch, Oops and Whoa” in this workshop.
● Ouch – when a person experiences a hurt
● Oops – when a person realizes that he/she/they may have caused a hurt
● Whoa – when a person witnesses a potential hurt.
For an example of the power of “whoa”, we recommend this short video clip in the film “Cracking the Codes”, by World Trust:
This approach is based on the concept of the Johari window. By soliciting feedback using “ouch, oops, and whoa”, we aim to shrink our blind spot, raise our consciousness, thereby decrease the incidences of unknowingly hurting each other.

Creating Anti-Racism Sacred Space: Processing “Ouch, Oops and Whoas”
● The burden of educating is not the responsibility of the Friends of Color in the group. If you are a white person with anti-racist practices, your role is to educate other white people in the group to question their own centrality and listen to another’s pain without defensiveness, judgment, or white fragility getting in the way.
● Be in worship together holding the space and ambiguity. Trust that Spirit is here guiding us and that those who say “ouch, oops or whoa” are led to speak.
● The person who experiences the hurt has the right to decide whether or not to address the issue.
● When someone is led to speak about a hurt, slow down the dialogue, center around the ouch, oops or whoa.
● If you are confused or don’t understand the hurt, sit in silence and hold the sacred space.
● Go into sacred listening about the hurt by focusing on the needs and concerns expressed.
● Pay attention to and speak about what’s happening in your body. Be willing to expose your vulnerability and reach for healing the wounds.
● Don’t create more pain for people already in pain. Our goal is to stop the harm that has been committed by becoming conscious of it and repairing the hurt by seeking healing through Quaker Truth being revealed.

Communication Recovery: a simple model for repairing an Ouch**
“Communication Recovery” involves acknowledging your mistake, sincerely apologizing, and then changing your behavior. It allows us to defuse tension, rebuild trust and rapport, and move forward.
1. When someone lets you know you’ve created an “ouch” for them, Accept the feedback: “Thanks for telling me.”
2. Acknowledge what happened, both your intent and the impact: “I didn’t mean to label you, but I see I did.”
3. Apologize: “I’m sorry I said that.” This is the most important step. It’s easiest if you apologize immediately. Your sincerity will help clear the air and allow everyone, including you, to feel more comfortable.
4. Adjust: In other words, don’t repeat the same offense in the future. Say so out loud, if you want – “I’ll try not to be such a clod in the future” – or simply demonstrate your intentions to be respectful through your future actions.

Sometimes there is ONE MORE STEP – ASK. If someone gives you feedback – “Ouch!” – and you aren’t sure why, then Ask: “What do you mean?” Then Accept their feedback with an open heart and an open mind.
* Invitation to Brave Space — a poem by Micky ScottBey Jones
Together we will create brave space.
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space” —
We exist in the real world.
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love.
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
This space will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be.
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it side by side.
** The Ouch! Files, Vol. 5, No. 1, Copyright 2014, Leslie


Actions for Building and Maintaining Right Relationships with Indigenous Cultures

At North Pacific Yearly Meeting’s 2021 Annual Session, I presented an Interest Group on “Toward Right Relationship with Indigenous Cultures”: ‘As we consider the Earthcare minute, let’s reflect on how the ethics and worldviews of Indigenous cultures can help us decolonize our own. We’ll consider some ideas for Friends as a group to act upon, bringing us to effective action.’

The presentation will eventually be posted here. Meanwhile, here is the list of proposed actions, followed by a list of web links referenced in the presentation:


Examine every element of your physical life to determine to what degree it reflects Indigenous Ethics and Worldviews.

Educate yourself and others. Attend and help develop educational events. Share your ideas and concerns through writing and lending books, creating publications, initiating conversations, and participating in electronic social media.

Reduce your consumption of food. Choose foods based on the sustainability of their production and distribution, specifically including energy costs, pollution and social impacts. Grow your own food and plant trees.

Travel lightly– cycle, walk, use public transport or alternatives to private cars, keep air travel to a minimum.

Share housing and community resources: Form or join a community, share housing, participate in a transition town movement.

Become politically active in promoting right relations concerns. Stay alert for opportunities to support your local indigenous people.

Invest ethically and divest from fossil fuels.

Reduce energy use especially for home heating and electricity consumption.

Use less water and harvest water.

Make time for spiritual connection with nature and God. Develop your own sense of connection with Indigenous Ethics and Worldviews. Learn the local language, closely paying attention to the deeper meanings it can express. Bonus: “We Are Still Here”

Within the Meeting:

Examine every element of the Meeting’s physical life to determine to what degree it reflects right relationships.

Encourage Friends to carry out the individual tasks listed earlier.

Educate Friends and others. Share your ideas and concerns through organized events, writing and lending books, creating publications, initiating conversations, participating in electronic social media.

Encourage Friends to share transport, equipment and sustainability skills with others in the Meeting community.

Encourage Friends to feel their inherent connections with all of nature: lead children out in nature; take care of nature around the meeting house (e.g., landscaping with native plants).

Renovate the Meeting House for sustainability.

Build alliances with like-minded organizations, especially with those that promote right relationships, and publicize our efforts with decision-makers.

Within our Quarterly and Yearly Meetings

Support the above actions of Monthly Meetings.

Build solidarity with local people, especially indigenous people.

Support Quaker activity in establishing right relations through politics and international work.

Connect and share with other Yearly Meetings, directly or via FWCC Sections and World Office. Consider breaking denominational lines, e.g. with Sierra Cascades and Northwest Yearly Meeting churches.

In the wider world:

Develop deeper ideas of Right Relations, e.g. the “gift economy” and “mutual aid”

Advocate for broader and deeper partnership with more earth-centered cultures.

Connect and share with other religious bodies, directly or via organizations like Earth Ministry and the Church Council of Greater Seattle.

Develop urban agriculture, community gardens, community supported agriculture, and plant trees.

Uphold, publicize and support related activities of Quaker and other organizations. This would include FCNL’s legislative work, AFSC’s community organizing, QEW’s education, and developing something like EQAT’s social activism.

Specific Actions from Friends Peace Teams/Toward Right Relationship program:

  • Support treaty rights and water protectors, Line 3 and elsewhere

  • Support Investigations and Healing for Indian Boarding Schools in Canada and the US

  • Sponsor workshops & other educational events

Other potential actions:

  • Consider the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery and how to counter it

  • Establish Land Acknowledgement as a regular practice in your Meeting

  • Consider how to return land to Native nations

  • Monitor and advocate for appropriate legislation through FCNL, Quaker Voice. Note ATNI and NCAI as information sources.

Web Links:

Mike Yarrow:

Quaker Indian Schools:

PacYM Braiding Sweetgrass Worship Group:

Woodbrooke Epistle:

Decolonize First workbook:

Balancing Act:

Related to all:

Salmon Boy Story video:

Life Lessons from Animals:

Recycling not good enough:

Learn a Local Language:

Annapolis Friends Meeting EV initiative

Snoqualmie Tribe asks public:

Aotearoa/NZ YM Epistle:

Indigenous Concerns Committee:

Earth Quaker Action Team:

Toward Right Relations/FPT:

Doctrine of Discovery:

Land Acknowledgement:

Land Reparations [“Landback”]:




Epistle: “A Quaker Response to Collapse” from Friends at Woodbrooke

To Friends and Seekers of Truth everywhere,

from a group of Friends from both sides of the Atlantic as we gather in worship to discern ‘A Quaker response to climate collapse’ on Zoom in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is an epistle agreed with participants of a Woodbrooke course led by Jackie Carpenter in May 2021.

The subject of climate collapse (the title we started with) or societal collapse in a time of climate breakdown (the title we developed together) is of such overwhelming importance, that we wish to share our findings.

Our understandings are diverse. Some of us feel that collapse is now inevitable with a real possibility of the end of life, at least the end of life for human beings and many other species, while others believe that moving forward to a sustainable future is still possible and even likely. Our differing viewpoints do not prevent us from experiencing a sense of relief in the discussion itself.

As Quakers, we believe in speaking the truth as we understand it, even when that truth is unpopular or unpleasant. We cannot know what the future holds and ‘The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)’, may or may not be inevitable, but it seems clear that our lifestyle of driving, flying, and denial of the spiritual nature of this finite Earth and its eco-systems cannot continue. Humanity is facing a time of extreme challenge and holding onto hope for a miraculous turn-around may be avoiding the truth. We recognise that many people are already facing challenges and disrupted lives. Perhaps the time has come for more people to speak about this, and for Quakers to help them.

Studying the fear of death and hearing about terror management we find that death- anxiety drives people to adopt worldviews that protect their self-esteem and worthiness so they feel they play an important role in a meaningful world. This may be an illusion, but we know it is hard for human beings to change from deeply embedded belief systems. We find that helping each other cope with a change of attitude, grief tending to include helping children face their grief, and new ways of thinking about the future are becoming increasingly important practices.

In sharing ideas about ?hope? we discern that for some of us, moving from feeling hopeful (possibly as a form of denial of an unpalatable truth) to a state of acceptance can leave us hope-free, not hope-less.  Reframing the future enables us to reach an understanding that the end might be nigh but that life and love goes on. We discover this reframing to be a powerful even joyful process of unburdening, finding it helpful to be free to discuss what living well and dying well might really mean. Giving up expectations of having to rescue the future personally is enormously liberating, and allows us to focus on living simply, staying local and building community in the present.

Once we accept that climate collapse may be an imminent possibility that could happen suddenly, like snow sliding off a roof, we may choose to change the actions we currently take to reduce our damage to the world. As we become more aware of the loss of habitat for people and wildlife and the anguish of inequality, we are inspired to work to reduce harm. Whatever the future may hold, we believe that it is important to walk forward with a sense of joy, love, and compassion for ourselves and for all of creation, working to reduce inequality and injustice in all places.

In our discernment, we find an acceptance of the real possibility of collapse to be liberating. It becomes a relief and pleasure to talk about how to live with what is. It may lead us to listen with greater compassion to those around us struggling to come to terms with their fears and difficulties, and to take steps to help them live and die better, helping one another up with a tender hand. We consider that Quakers could be poised to become midwives and comforters of the challenging times ahead of us.

You may contact the group through