Having A Good Discussion

Following last week’s Fellowship Dinner, I have been reflecting on the value of a conversation. To have the chance to talk about matters of importance with other people who also value deep inquiry is such a gift. As the design of last week’s “Conversation Menu” was developing, I reconnected with the work of author and conversation leader Priya Parker who studies the contemporary art of conversation. Of each encounter we have, she writes, we can apply the Japanese concept of “Ichi-go ichi-‘e.” Explaining, she says, “The master told me it roughly translates to “one meeting, one moment in your life that will never happen again…We could meet again, but you have to praise this moment because in one year, we’ll have a new experience, and we will be different people and will be bringing new experiences with us, because we are also changed.”

She says we too often get stuck in an non-engaging level of conversation. We ask a routine and predictable set of questions and we tune out the creative part of our brains. This is why the “Table Manners” at last week’s conversations instructed you to steer away from questions such as where you lived; what you did/do for most of your time or how long you have been a member. These are the most common ways we start conversations with one another in MDUUC settings. Trying something new allowed some to meet people in a different way.

On April 14th, we will have our Beacon Breakfast with another set of questions for one another and another chance to meet the MDUUC community as it is in 2024. And in the meantime, how would it be if we just experiment with different ways of engaging with one another as we meet in the Bortin Hall or at MDUUC activities?

The Elder Journey community has a new practice which is that once a month one of the members answers questions about their life and shares their story. People discover connections they didn’t know they had and they hear some very intriguing stories. As one of the ministers, I know firsthand how many fascinating people we have–in fact, every one of you has a story worth hearing. Perhaps this spring we can welcome these stories!

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