I was with a group of friends last night at Iron Hill Brewery. I call us the 'Iron Men' :-) We try to meet over dinner approximately once a month, give or take a week or two. It’s dinner followed by some catching up, concluding with substantive conversation of one sort or another. Some weeks the conversation has to do with an incident in one of the gospels. A month later, we may deliberate over something having to do with, say, work or vocation. On and on it goes.
Last night we began by answering this question: ‘What, if any, dilemmas are you facing right now?’ The answers were fascinating. The conversation was, as usual, spirited and unguarded. It was, and always is, relationally rich. Something deep inside me comes alive when we gather.
'It'It makes me wonder. What is 'it' about this group that makes people who might otherwise be guarded or buttoned up, so un-guarded, so buttoned down? Why is this group so...unusual? 'It' is certainly is hard to find in most educational, vocational or religious settings, at least in my experience.
My hunch is that the reason this group has 'it' is twofold. First, we've known each other for a while now and find one another trustworthy. Secondly, there are no 'bouncers' among the Iron Men. Bouncers can be political, religious or social in nature. Their job is to scan every opinion voiced, every experience reported upon and every emotion expressed to insure it’s without alloy. To insure that it fits a particular narrative. It's not that we don't disagree or debate. We do. Even rigorously. It's that we debate and disagree not to win nor to vanquish the other, but to gain wisdom with, and from, the one another.
While I’d say each of us aspires to a life of greater faithfulness to God and to others, no one seems to have any illusions about the rather daunting nature of what we aspire to. We know the summit is far higher than our climbing skills can manage. We are grace addicts and speak accordingly.
Speaking of addicts, when all is said and done, our group reminds me of a really healthy AA meeting in which people tell the good, the bad and the ugly truth about themselves. They do it because they all know, as do we, that ‘we are as sick as our secrets.'
All the best,