Fearless Conversation

A practical update: this is not an excuse, it is a realisation.

I had a wonderful visit on Sunday with a lovely friend. It left me feeling two things: Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been waiting for, and, I need more of this.

You see, I was asked how I felt about having deep conversations, and my first response to that is always an immediate “Yes, please, speak deeply with me!” I’ve been writing to the depths of my shallow soul since I was thirteen, I long for depth.

And so I said “It’s not comfortable, but yes I like deep conversation.”

But it’s not comfortable, because as much as I have lauded deep conversation…I’ve had very, very, very little of it. And I find myself floundering because I can sit at my keyboard for as long as it takes to convey my deepest thoughts to you, but a conversation lives, flows, breathes. It has a heartbeat, it moves, it wanes. If I do not speak immediately what Spirit breathes, the natural rhythm is not honoured.

I know I’m making simple discussion sound lofty and artful–and it is. But what I’m really trying to convey is that I’m unpractised; I’ve had very little practice at any conversation. When I was thirteen and coming out of seclusion I didn’t know how to have a conversation; I made a friend very dear to me but I could not speak audibly to her in the first year of our friendship because I was so frozen at human contact. And the reality is that even though adulthood has forced me into scraping by socially, I have never advanced beyond the point of that thirteen-year-old boy with a lump in my throat and a stop on my voice, and the truth is I have known very few (if any) people who knew how to approach that, or who had the patience to walk for long next to a mute.

It’s not comfortable.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump for several months. I’ve wanted to write here, I’ve wanted to share many things with my close friends, many of whom are not geographically close. I’ve had projects planned, research to complete and write on for my other writing project, I’ve even been toying with some vague ideas around a [possible spoiler alertpodcast. But I don’t, and haven’t, and haven’t the motivation or energy. I sat down at my desk to do one thing and tried that and four or five other things and decided I didn’t want to do any of them before almost begrudgingly opening wordpress because I thought, maybe it’s time to write this out and process it. So here I am.

And I haven’t really had many conversations of much substance in the last….well, I don’t even want to think about how long, because frankly that’s a depressing thought. I haven’t been well-connected to people in a long time–certainly not people with whom I could share deep conversation. And I long for that.

So I may not have much to write here. I may not have much presence on social media at all, because I’d like to make conversation a practice – real conversation, with my voice, out loud. I’d like to hear from my friends in a call, or face to face. I’d like to have deep conversation, until it is comfortable enough that my heart does not start to race leading up to the moment I speak. I would like to be much more authentic by this practice.

I hope to see you around.

I Was Wrong About Tradition

Featured imageWhen I was growing up my family had a tradition. On some (but not necessarily any in particular) occasions, and usually for supper, instead of the usual prayer for the meal my parents would strike up a short chorus. My fondest memories found all ten of us crammed around our table singing this prayer, maybe to the soft tune of candle light if it were a particularly special-feeling evening. Unfortunately, it was not a common enough tradition for me to actually learn the song completely before it eventually went dark as our family spread further apart, and only today did I stop and piece it together completely in my memory, and to the best of my recollection it went something like this:

As our family gathers around this table
Where this meal has been prepared
Let all our hearts be grateful
As we offer up this prayer:

“Our Father in Heaven, for this meal you have given
We want to say thank-youthank-you from our hearts.
Bless the hands who prepared it, and now as we share it
Would you stay with us, and be our guest of Honour”

Usually when I think about tradition church comes to mind. Particularly, “traditional” church in which service structure is so deeply ingrained in its members that even the slightest deviation in program makes everyone feel awkward–particularly if you happen to be the one causing the deviation. I think of rules, regulations, and blind observation. And cages.

But when I think of that song, I don’t think of any of that. I think of my family, together, being a family. Sitting down around the table to share life together. It might just be my bad memory, but those 60 seconds of music were some of the most beautiful moments I can remember sharing with my family.

And as I remember that tradition I wonder why I’ve given tradition such a bad name. True, I’ve come from a subculture laden with empty, meaningless traditions, traditions that might have meant something to someone at some time, but are now nothing more than the routines of a well-oiled machine. But what if that’s all fake–the shadows of an empty shell, not the heart and reality of what a tradition is. What if traditions really are ways to remember who we are, but only work if we actually, you know, remember. What if tradition doesn’t mean anything unless we remember the value it celebrates? Family, togetherness, warmth, tradition. Why?

Because it’s too easy to forget.