During this week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish people declare that “The Book of Life” is still open. On Rosh Hashanah, declarations are said to be made about who shall live and who shall die, who shall suffer and who shall prosper, who shall be born, who shall marry and so on. On Yom Kippur, that Book is sealed. It’s a done deal by Wednesday night and your fate is sealed for another year. Last night, as the sun set and the parties in my mediation were still $100,000.00 apart, it occurred to me that occasionally the mediator has to bring faith into her mediations, because the other participants get to a point of hopelessness. At about 8:00 PM, I read a post by a dear friend who happens to be a mediator and also suffering with critical illness. He was looking for some hope in the night. I told him I was praying for his complete recovery and then expressed my wish that he was there to finish the negotiation on this challenging Friday night hearing. His response was both an expression of faith and optimism: he was pretty sure it would be settled by Tuesday. It was, in fact, that small voice (his and my own) that gave me the courage and impetus to lead the parties to have faith that a settlement could be reached. By 9:00 PM, it was sealed. No, I did not involve the parties in prayer. No, I did not pray for the ultimate settlement that was reached. Still, having faith that a deal could be sealed, after 11 hours of negotiation, felt right. Sometimes, faith is, in fact, a cherished friend who can guide us even after darkness sets.
ADR, Alternative Dispute Resolution, has continued to grow in all sectors of our society, including government. In my home state of Oregon, the Legislature has actively promoted greater use of...By David Marcus