Conversation, good solid conversation, real conversation, deep thinking conversation, historic conversation, and fresh and invigorating interpretation was just what I needed this past weekend. I set out to achieve just that at the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ (PNW-UCC) annual meeting in Pasco, Washington. I was content and satisfied by the conversations I experienced.
Clergy in the UCC church are highly trained to listen, interpret, read, research and are able to communicate well in a variety of arenas. These individuals are keenly aware of the culture, news, politics, and how people interact and need to understand situations and events in order to live their lives fully and participate in the world as good stewards, leaders and parents. There is a great deal of attention paid to teaching the youth how to be in conversation, interpret and keep thinking and learning. There is a curiosity and a freedom to question. I watched an 8 year process towards change in governance being discussed and challenged right up to the call for the vote. People truly felt heard and respected. There was no yelling or shouting. There were no age restrictions or gender bias. There was a respectful honoring – lots of contemplation and debate. I was planning on voting one direction and after the discussion and good night of sleep, I changed my mind. It was satisfying.
One thing I cherished in the weekend, that there were no “sound bites” except in the humor of the speeches and lectures, which were extremely fun, funny and informative. It was wonderful to hear folks clarifying what they heard so they could respond to the idea shared and move the conversation in many directions. It was savory to witness true heart/head and head/heart connections being made.
Now the group was not perfect, no way! Lots of the young folks did not even speak to the elders. Several groups came together and did not connect with others. Several people boldly stated that they did not receive an answer to their question even when it was restated. That conversation went on past my bedtime, and I was heartened to see it had created new friend bonds in the morning, when they had reached a point of understanding that enabled them to disagree and to agree upon their disagreement.
I was hungry for the conversation and the depth.
In so many of my daily interactions, I am being told, “Oh I never discuss religion or politics,” “I always keep the conversation positive”; “I don’t know”. These statements assume that discussion or discussing change is negative, religious or political. How does one improve their society without knowing that there is something different that could be accomplished? Without learning the new?
We know that the brain does not make a decision or a change without new research and having conversations about it. I have written about how we make decisions and change several times. If you are just following orders or directions of suggestions and ideas of others – you are just memorizing another path and not choosing; there is no dialogue or integrating of concepts.
I was hungry to have a meaningful, heartfelt conversation.
I have returned home satisfied and fulfilled.
When was the last time you had a heart to heart, mind to mind satisfying conversation? Do you hunger for these? Some people are happy on a restricted diet, I know I am weary of conversation these days, I need to establish trust, how about you?
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