Friday, October 29, 2004

Holy Absence

Not too long ago I wrote about a neighbor of ours whose letter to the editor of our local newspaper indicated that she saw nothing anti-gay about the Republican Party platform this year. As I mentioned then, John and I like these people a lot, so we invited her and her husband over for coffee the other night to discuss this issue with them. I don't know what we hoped to accomplish, but I think it was just to hear how she came to the conclusion that the Republican party was not anti-gay right now and maybe to have the opportunity to give her another perspective.

After we settled down in the living room I felt the need to discuss just how awkward I felt discussing this with them. I shared that it was hard for me to discuss my concerns and feelings about such personal issues without sounding (or being!) accusatory. But John and I also felt it was important for us to hear what they had to say. My exposure to Republican thoughts on this matter had come only through media, which tends to produce relationally vacuous impressions, or through people who share my own beliefs.

I won't go into all of the conversation, but I believe the net result was positive (as most honest and love-based conversations are). Neither of us experienced major shifts in our points of view (no real surprise). But what seemed kind of holy to me was having a discussion about this that didn't end in either of us batting at the air about whatever we believed without considering the thoughts or feelings of others on the other side of the fence. And we didn't paint all of those who disagree with us with a large brush, or assume we knew all that the person on the other side of the issue was thinking. That felt big to me.

Can a holy event receive its essence from what did not happen or from what was unsaid? I don't know, but all four of us had to admit that as strong as our convictions might be and whatever their final results, only God has the big picture and hearing the other's points of view only made this more clear to us.


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