I will never forget the first time I spoke to Randy Reese, founder of Vantage Point 3 and one of my most influential mentors. He captivated me with the statement, “We’ve discovered that conversation creates culture.” Something about this assertion rang true; a pearl of wisdom that seemed right and good.
Undoubtedly, conversation has been creating the culture of Fall Creek Abbey (FCA) for almost ten years now. It’s one of our core values and featured in Thursday’s liturgy in Prayers at Twilight. Creating space for meaningful conversation was a centerpiece of our vision when we founded FCA. Why?
Because conversation is the crucible in which relational intimacy is forged; both with God and one another.
A couple of weeks ago we witnessed how this crucible has forged intimacy in a group of young couples from our church, The Table Indy. We’d invited several couples over for dinner who live near one another in an urban neighborhood not too far from us. We gathered around the fire table in our backyard, passing around a stack of Examen Q’s, each person answering a question on a card, and watched with rapt attention as these women and men engaged one another. It left quite an impression.
We noticed how everyone participated in the conversation, in pursuing others in the group. It wasn’t “top heavy,” where one person dominated, or the person with the most power and authority directed the conversation, and everyone followed.
We noticed how one person spoke at a time and everyone listened—and listened well. It wasn’t a free-for-all where people climbed over one another seeking to claim the floor. It wasn’t a ping-pong match where everyone batted a ball back and forth. Attention was given to the person speaking.
We noticed that curiosity was their muse. When someone answered an Examen Q question, another person noticed what stood out and made them curious. “Say more about this theme of seasons.” “I’d love to know what you mean by….” We witnessed them ask beautiful, open-ended, sincere, thoughtful questions that invited the person to share more of his or herself.
We noticed that everyone showed up in the conversation. Each person sensed the common grace offered and stepped into the conversation, offering honest, vulnerable, real and pertinent fragments of his or her story and life.
We felt so privileged to witness this unusual and beautiful exchange among these folks who are practicing being good neighbors and conversationalists. They are clearly creating a culture through conversation.
When was the last time you had a good conversation?
“Good words satisfy like a fine meal;
Yes, good conversations are sure to satisfy.”
Proverbs 18:20, The Voice
This is the sixth blog in a series, The Shaping of a Life, about the seven values that have given shape to our lives and Fall Creek Abbey, and are featured in our newest book, Prayers at Twilight—Daily Liturgies for the In-Between Times. Here’s where you can purchase your copy of Prayers at Twilight or Examen Q’s.