Whole-making grace #KAIROS20

Left to right: Paul Heidebrecht, Sue Wilson, David Hallman and Julie Graham.
Left to right: Paul Heidebrecht, Sue Wilson, David Hallman and Julie Graham, in 2013.

When I think of the role KAIROS plays in the Christian church, Canada, and the world, the image that comes to mind is ‘whole-making grace’.

I mean ‘whole-making’ in the sense of an active movement toward a sacred unity emerging within a valued diversity; an underlying oneness that is slowly revealed as divisions are healed, oppression is overturned, difference is honoured, and relationships nurtured. This wholeness is about justice and compassion, reconciliation and peace-making, transformation and the evolution of consciousness. The wholeness of Love.

I’ve experienced the whole-making energies of KAIROS in many ways:

Unity emerging from within diversity    

I’ve been around the Steering Committee table as members of the different churches and faith-based organizations worked through differing perspectives to establish a strong KAIROS voice on an issue while maintaining and respecting each group’s uniqueness.  The desire for courageous action was never understood to be at odds with the desire to maintain and deepen relationships.   

But perhaps my strongest sense of unity-amidst-diversity emerged from a KAIROS conversation about white privilege.  I am white and many of the participants were members of racialized groups.  A sacredness arose from the conversation, which was both sensitive and searingly honest.  And I left the conversation with not only a deep sense of gratitude, but also a heightened attentiveness to internalized racism and a much more urgent sense of the need to be proactively anti-racist. 

For me, both experiences tap God’s presence and action within us and among us, deepening communion through a graced transcendence of our own perspective and an opening to be stretched by another.  

Being part of a much larger whole 

I am always amazed at the energy created at a KAIROS Circle Gathering.  As members of the various Circles join with Staff, Steering Committee, and Regional Reps, the commitment to the issues is palpable but so is the enjoyment of old friends re-connecting and new relationships forming. 

At the same time, one of the gifts of being part of KAIROS is the way KAIROS connects us with much wider networks.  I remember being part of a KAIROS delegation to the World Social Forum and meeting up with people from justice-based networks from the Global South.  It was such a rich experience to hear the same issues addressed from very different contexts; to recognize the limits of my own perspective and be broadened by another’s.  

We are profoundly interconnected in ways we only slowly uncover through our relationships and through our life in the Spirit.  These relationships, with God, earth and each other are the constitutive elements of the wholeness we seek. 

Justice and compassion have embraced 

One of the things KAIROS does best is to draw attention to the people and places where cross-cutting issues intersect.  Through connections with KAIROS, a group of us in London were able to arrange a meeting with some women from the South Sudan Council of Churches who were doing a tour in Canada.  It was stirring to hear of the work they were doing to create a foundation for healing and peace in South Sudan, all while empowering other women and girls to be publicly engaged and working for justice.  

From time to time, I go to the KAIROS website to encounter and be inspired by the lives of courageous women who live and struggle for justice at the intersection of human rights abuses, environmental damage from resource extraction, and climate change.  KAIROS amplifies the voices of so many women and invites us to join these women in their work of justice and compassion. 

The lives of these women testify that the Spirit confronts and transforms that which tries to diminish or exclude.  Their stories are instances of the Spirit-filled earth groaning aloud in the pangs of new birth (Rom. 8:22), and they impel each of us to participate in the ushering in of a new creation. 

Sacredness of earth and water 

Several years ago, we invited KAIROS staff to do a workshop on Reconciliation in the Watershed.  The event gathered local watershed experts, local Indigenous leaders, KAIROS staff, and a wide variety of people from the area.  It was a time for all of us to get to know the watershed by developing a deeper relationship with it and each other.  And it was so clear that the pollution of water and damage done to the watershed are issues that are as much spiritual as they are environmental.   

Such experiences exhort us unlearn the objectification of water and open ourselves to experience its sacredness; to reflect more deeply on the meaning of “the Spirit of God hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:1) and appreciate with greater depth that God is one-with all of Creation. 

Evolution of consciousness 

Over the last twenty years, KAIROS has helped to stir my evolving understanding of myself as a Settler, as someone who has benefitted from the legacy of colonialism in Canada, and as a member of a Treaty people.  KAIROS provides opportunities to listen deeply to Indigenous persons, to be transformed by their words and challenges, and to be moved to advocate for policy change.   

The KAIROS network is continually creating spaces where we can do the work of de-colonizing our minds and hearts.  And such Spirit-led breakthroughs in consciousness illumine pathways into a new way of life; a new way of being in relationship. 


We humans are part of Creation and, as such, we find our meaning and purpose by consciously participating in God’s communion with earth and all earth’s creatures; by consciously participating in whole-making love.  

This movement toward wholeness flows from a constant interaction between contemplation for inner, soul-based integration, and action for an outer, justice-based transformation in the world.  

For me, this whole-making interaction is the beating heart of KAIROS.  And its beat confirms that growth is relationship with God and growth in right relationship with earth and each other are interacting and interpenetrating movements which cannot be separated. 

Sue Wilson, CSJ is Director of the Office for Systemic Justice for the Canadian Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph. 

Filed in: #KAIROS20 Anniversary


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