Simple Honest Conversation

August 24-29 I will be vacationing in Florida and attending a small family reunion celebrating my dad’s 96th birthday. A larger one took place last summer. Not all our family members have lived so long. My mom died 30 years ago at age 66, the communicator always sending cards with beautiful and thoughtful hand-written notes. My oldest sister died 5 summers ago at age 63, a soulmate among my five siblings, with whom I shared common aspirations. My younger sister’s husband and my dad’s second wife died 2 summers ago. These lives missed are not lost on me but leave abiding memories and marks. I look forward to this time together; time for good conversation and deepening relationships while God gives us this time with each other.

I need that time, as perhaps you do also, for safe, loving, intimate conversations; and time to share the deeper hopes and aspirations operating within our lives, those God also hears in prayers silent, spoken, or written. We are flooded each day with words, tweets, Facebook posts, policy changes intent on making persons feel unsafe, hated, and told their lives don’t matter. Each day we see children and adults killed or dying as that hatred and lack of compassion is enacted. Deeper conversations, these “fear+less dialogues” as Gregory C. Ellison II calls them, are not widely taking place. We have forgotten that Biblical verse, “There is no fear in love,” (I John 4.18).

Margaret Wheatley writes “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, honest, human conversation. Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.” She explains in Turning to One Another. Simple conversations to Restore Hope to the Future: “Human conversation is the most ancient and easiest way to cultivate the conditions for change—personal change, community and organizational change, planetary change…to talk about what’s important to us.” 

She knows, as you and I know, these simple, honest conversations require our time and trust, including being able to talk with those we name our “enemies.” She adds: “Fear of each other, also keeps us apart. Most of us have lists of people we fear. We can’t imagine talking with them…we can’t imagine what we would learn from them.” Her writings and personal experiences are her way to lead us into such honest and truthful conversations, deepening and preserving human and international relationships. 

Wherever you find yourselves, I hope God’s love for you and the world God made for all of us, might lead you into more simple, truthful conversation where you have a chance to speak, feel heard, and listen well with others. 

Robert Foltz-Morrison