the space between us
The Space Between Us is a book rich in stories and depth. It offers no easy answers to our diverse experiences of conflict. Instead, the book invites readers to journey with Betty Pries, the author, through a diversity of themes that considers how we fall into conflict and how we understand the nature of conflict alongside strategies for managing or transforming conflict. While there are so many rich themes in the book, it is Pries’ central metaphor that takes this body of work into new and uncharted territory. Pries proposes that often our fall into conflict is driven by an interior sense that in some way our selfhood is at risk. If this is true, how we regard our selfhood is vitally important.
Pries offers the reader an extended metaphor to describe what it means to be a person. Described as the “Architecture of Selfhood” this metaphor asks us to consider the multiple layers of our personhood and to consider how an unhealthy attachment to any of our characteristics can cause us to fall headlong into our defended and false self – and from there into conflict. Pries invites readers to reground themselves in a deeper form of their selfhood, one that is, at once, both inviolable and the birthplace of goodness, generosity and grace. This, it appears, changes everything – creating opportunities for a healed sense of self, meaningful conflict conversations, and when appropriate, either a reconciliation or a healthy parting of ways. Recognizing that transformation happens deep in our heart center, Pries provides readers with a multiple strategies – spiritual disciplines – for returning to this center. Upon reading Pries’ book we are assured that not only is our falling down natural, our getting up again is also possible. Grace, transformation – and joy – are possible.
The Space Between Us is written for those interested in the transformation of conflict, for practitioners of conflict transformation, and for spiritual seekers. While Pries’ own tradition is Christian and while she draws from that and other traditions in her writing, the book is for people of all (and no) traditions.
It would be enough if The Space Between Us offered instructive and practical paradigms for engaging conflict (it does). It would be enough if it offered grist for the mill of personal reflection and growth and an array of supportive prayer and meditation modalities (it does!). But The Space Between Us offers more –guiding readers toward the numinous, sacred space rendering both conflict and the reading itself holy.
Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center
Having attempted many of the tools outlined in The Space Between Us through Betty’s coaching, I can attest to their value and to the powerful impact they have in the midst of conflict. The world would be a different place if these tools were put into practice. The gift of The Space Between Us is that it doesn’t stop at practical how tos. It delves into the identity of who we are in our humanity and opens up space for our true selves to shine.