This past week, I've been noticing the fact that many conversations between human beings involve one person or other telling everyone else what they KNOW. It's almost like a competition to see who knows the most or who has the best position.
On the other hand, I really love a style of conversation that focuses on considering QUESTIONS in a meaningful way. The point is not to see who can dominate the conversation with the best answer, but to listen thoughtfully to each person present and then to let the Silence and Listening present within the surrounding landscape absorb our ideas and mirror back to us whatever insights It will.
This is essentially a contemplative way of communicating, and it involves viewing conversation as an art form in which the words and ideas of all of the participants are woven together naturally and spontaneously into a beautiful work of art. Lately I've wondered - based on some of the conversations I've participated in - how many people are familiar with this way of communicating?
I've also noticed that in many conversations involving religion, spirituality or the meaning of life, the participants have a tendency to refer continually back to some community or church they belong to rather than honoring the conversation partners who are present AT THAT VERY MOMENT AND LOCATION.
It seems to me that when we constantly refer back to some community other than the one present right here and now, we are disrespecting its sacredness in order to refer to something else we consider MORE sacred. After all, the only "church" we ever really have is the one present at THIS time and in THIS place right here and now.
And that "church" includes especially the surrounding landscape - with its plants, animals, landforms, waters and skies - that embraces us ALL in its dignity, humility and silent listening.
Photos: Golden Banner, Calypso Orchid, the Never Summer Range, and freshly leafed-out Aspen trees, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, June 3-4, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.