I love roaming conversations about real things, deep life, and the questions that linger in the hidden places. When friends, new and old, offer up their treasured thoughts in a conversation, listening becomes an artful experience, punctuated by moments of shared understanding, common sighs, and inspiration.
It’s been a week of multiple conversations like this for me, and I couldn’t be more thankful. My friends and I have talked about racism, relationships and sex, the role of criticism in theatre, immigration policy, parenting when it gets iffy with your kids, the mysteries of physics in relation to the notion of God, the creative process, the intimacy of photography in portrait work, the role of sin in the ongoing work of making complete and whole human beings…I even got to share a couple of songs.
It’s strange that in the midst of these conversations, loneliness can still manage to rear its head. But it does—resistance never stops its assault—yet loneliness recedes to a peripheral place when I sit listening to my friends’ stories. And I think, “Life is not big enough to hold all that we desire from it.” Yes, there is evil here…I know, but God knows there is such goodness among us. We hate for the silliest of reasons, don’t we? (Not always, but often.) Our commonness is so rich—survival, the need for love, the need for beauty, the need for respect and dignity, the need to be heard, known, and loved.
Christ teaches us that sacrifice of self, the movement of the ego off-center in order to serve and to love, is somehow mysteriously at the center of what it means to human and whole. I confess I don’t grasp it, though I know all the theological words to express the idea. God help me, I don’t really need to grasp it. I need to live it.
How? Insert a chuckle here, ‘cause I have no idea, really. But somehow, the conversations with my friends, new and old, male and female, black and white and brown, rich and poor, faithful and not-even-close, Christian and Whatever-other-than-that, straight and gay, beautiful and not-quite, young and old…all these conversations are beginning places to live out something that Christ perhaps had in mind. Something intuitive, something creative, something to perhaps change a moment, a day, a feeling, and a future.
In our conversations today, may we pour life into the other. Share food, share drink, share what we have, share good, good words. Let us resist the tearing of life from our friends through mock, fury, and barbed wire critique. As so many have said, let us replace our fear with curiosity.
I don’t know the answers anymore. But goodness…how good it is to listen and collaborate on what comes next in our chasing down the questions.