Journals and Juries
All things and all men, so to speak,
call on us with small or loud voices. They want us to listen. They want us to
understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being. But we can only give
it to them through the love that listens. ~Paul Tillich
The day I received it, I let out a
despairing, wailing “No!” My husband rushed in and asked what was wrong. I
handed him the summons to jury duty, my third in three years.
I’d been allowed exemptions in the past
because of my health and my children’s ages, but this time there was no escape;
it had to be done. The letter warned of possible overnight stays. Friends told
me of the nightmares they still had after hearing evidence at murder, rape and
child abuse trials. I believe in democracy, but every day that passed, I grew
more and more anxious, dreading the prospect of being separated from my family
or having to sit in judgement on another human being, perhaps after listening to
harrowing details I would never be able to forget.
The day came, and I arrived at an
imposing, Victorian building, its entrance flanked with columns. I walked up a
flight of stone steps, crossed the cold, echoing floor of a musty foyer and
announced my arrival to a grim-faced receptionist, barricaded behind a high
reception desk of polished dark wood. I smiled and asked for help and
directions. He barked at me that I wasn’t needed but would have to come back the
next day. I stood there stunned, not knowing if I felt angry or relieved. How
much vitriol had this man been subjected to for this to be his default?
I drove home, hugged my family, told them
it wasn’t over.
Another sleepless night. A morning of
strained goodbyes, the children wondering if I’d be home that night. Once again,
I drove through the hills to our nearest big town, barely registering the rain
clouds hanging heavy in an inky sky. This might be an innocent person’s last day
of freedom. I might be about to set a murderer free. I’d deliberately arrived
early, and decided to clear my mind by doing some writing in my favourite French
café in the cobbled square next to the old church, just round the corner from
the County Court.
As I sat, sipping strong black coffee and
listening to French accordion music, I visualised the proceedings, mentally
preparing myself to tap into every single one of the Proficiencies™ (and any
relevant Clarifiers™, Stylepoints™ and Frameworks™) to make sure I was my best
self in court, with my fellow jurors and with any court officials I was expected
to co-operate and communicate with. Here's what I was aiming for:
- To go in with all my own stuff cleaned
- Not to judge or assume or be forced into
any tricky lawyer's manipulation of paradigms while in court listening.
- To listen well and carefully.
- To respect everyone's humanity.
- To relish truth – in many different
- To enjoy my fellow jurors
- To ask very good clarifying questions, if
necessary, while deliberating with other jurors.
- To remind myself, constantly, that
everyone's doing the best they can with what they've got.
- To recognise the perfection in it
This is what emerged in my
1) If you’ve been invited to do jury duty, it means you’re alive.
2) That letter you were sent means you have an address, a home.
not the victim.
4) You’re not the accused.
5) You’re anxious because you
6) You’re eligible because you can see, you can hear and you’re
7) Like it or not, you’ll learn something about your legal
8) You live in a country that has a legal system.
9) It’s a
perfect chance to listen, really listen, without prejudice, assumptions or
10) You’re not in this alone.
I finished my coffee, put my notebook
away, paid, and crossed the square to the County Court, feeling stronger and
more serene than I had for months.
I heard and learned a lot that day, but it
was those café thoughts that turned my jury moments into coaching moments.
Janice Hunter is an IAC certified homelife
coach who lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She created and
co-wrote Sharing the Certification Journey: Six IAC Coaches Talk About
Their Journeys, and her blogsite, www.sharingthejourney.co.uk, provides soul food and support
for coaches, writers, parents and home-based workers.
Janice has compiled all of her Coaching
Moments pieces from the last two years into a free 46-page ebook, 'Coaching
Moments: A Collection of Articles about Coaching in Everyday Life' which can be
downloaded here or from her site.