By Reverend Rebecca Dinovo
Our chosen topic was on the (potentially charged) subject of the intersection of faith and politics. However, as we followed the helpful Living Room Conversation guide and format, I noticed the people at my table were able and willing to be vulnerable with one another and share not only varying viewpoints, but even some significant fears they had about what is happening in our nation and here in California.
As these conversations continued and people listened to one another over the course of the conversation I noticed some tears begin to fall around the room – tears, it seemed, of relief and joy to not only be heard and affirmed, but to gain a deeper understanding of others. We discovered, once again, that as we listened to one another more deeply we were able to see things in a new way.
Participants enthusiastically agreed the exercise was very helpful. And I was asked to assist the other parish hold a similar conversation over there. And at the close one woman stated, “I can’t express how important this is. I get the sense that it’s conversations like these, done face to face, here and there and around this nation, that will ultimately change our culture for the better.”
In the weeks following the series I had several parishioners share with me that they had employed the tools they’d learned in our series and that it had helped them reconnect with family members and friends they had struggled with previously due to differences of opinion. I know for me personally it has changed the way I approach people when a difficult topic is raised, and I feel more empowered to “understand more than be understood” and connect across differences with great curiosity and wonder.