My wife Cheryl has wonderful memories of her grandmother Agatha. One reflection she shared with me recently was the way her grandmother always made time for each individual grandchild. I’m sure she had lots of grandmotherly skills but two memorable ones sat on her front porch: two huge wooden rocking chairs. One chair was grandma’s, the other chair was for whoever was walking by. She would invite them to sit and rock.
How are you? What do you like? Good for you! Tell me about …. Her grandmother was able to learn lots of things about her grand daughter’s life while also sharing her own experiences, memories, advice. Cheryl expressed that those one on one conversations were memorable mostly because they made her feel loved.
Imagine that – the power of personal time and talking. Not chatting with the rest of the family in the living room, not small talk at the grocery store, not random comments in front of the TV but intentional, relaxed, meaningful, honest conversation ending in well-being and love. Not everyone has the benefit of that.
Some of my fondest memories are of sitting at home or in a restaurant or coffee shop with one or other of my children, looking at them and, you know … talking together about life, about anything.
Or as a teenager finding myself reluctantly in the company of older people like the Hawleys or Milligans but then discovering that I enjoyed them as much as they enjoyed me.
Or as a pastor learning about a family while chatting and sipping instant coffee at their kitchen table.
Amazing miracles can be birthed when good conversation happens and is allowed to wander and expand and roll and deepen. Talking for more than just function makes us human and healthy conversation is about finding ways to share what really matters. Meaningful conversation is one of the reasons why Christian people in my background used to speak of each other as brother or sister. Talking makes everything deeper and better.
Consider the stories of Jesus. He is often found in quiet conversation with individuals: Peter, John, Mary, Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well. Time after time we see him in people’s homes reclining, talking, listening, often at a table and often before, during or after a meal. In fact, when the end of his life neared, it was at a table that Jesus shared with his followers a way to come together in the future to remember him and to become family. When he re-appeared after Resurrection he showed up at meal time or barbecued on the beach while engaging with the people he loved. The beautiful conversation he had with Peter at the end of the book of John has fed Christians for centuries.
Do you find time for good, uninterrupted conversation? Do you give and receive goodness and wisdom? Do you find ways to talk intentionally and seriously about life, family, experiences, faith, anything that matters?
This Thanksgiving weekend, be sure there is a good dose of both laughter and good conversation around the table. But also make unhurried time to find your own huge wooden rocking chairs and someone to sit with in them.
Good conversation can be so healthy. So holy.
Have a blessed and thankful celebration this weekend!