Conversations Amid Confict


I used to share my opinions freely. I didn’t mind talking to strangers or disagreeing friends about the thoughts that weighed on me. According to them, my thoughts and plans were radical then, but not concerning. My ideas haven’t really changed – though some of my language has – but now I worry people.

[I think it’s funny that asking to be let alone. To build up a little hermitage among the trees and raise up children who are free and imaginative and good is radical and concerning. To know history and apply it to this current world is concerning. Essentially, it seems that to be Other in a world of compliance is concerning. ]

I’m learning in the transitory season how to have conversations that at one and same time conceal and reveal. It’s not easy, but it is a necessary skill if we want to pass through the division and come out on the other side with relationships intact.

What do I mean?

Some people watch too much news. Whatever the source, they sit and absorb it. With those people, if I love them, I now speak carefully. These people aren’t ready for honest friendships, they still live in a sort of interior isolation.

I’ve seen them, when friendships fall apart over politics or social choices, cry and berate themselves for failing to reach out; but in the moment of argument all they can do is channel their favorite commentator. We’re often not capable of open conversation today, and I can’t ask more of my friends than they’re capable of giving. So, I’m saving those conversations for a future that may never come: a little hope-chest of thoughts to share when the interior isolation falls away.

Apocalypse Friends

Fortunately for me, the world is full of other ‘radicals’. A wide cluster of people – close friends and bare-acquaintances who are ready for real conversations. I call them my apocalypse friends, and some of them are surprising.

[These are not just people who agree with me on everything (really, no one agrees with me on EVERYTHNG. No one agrees with you on everything either. ) These are just people who have made it clear that agreement is not as essential as love.]

Finding apocalypse friends has been one of the greatest joys of these crazy season. Nurturing those friendships is easy and casual and full of cozy intimacy. Sometimes, those friends and I disagree on almost everything – except freedom and love. Other times, we share surprising depths of unity. I’m passing books to my apocalypse friends and reading their books in return. We’re having long conversations in the chilly, March sunshine just as we had conversations in the heat of July and the lonely chill of last year’s April.

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon..”

A cluster of apocalypse friends can create a space of freedom, despite the limiting world around us. They paint the landscape with warmth and joy.

With apocalypse friends, all my language can be a revelation, and I know that when they have concerns, those concerns are trustworthy and well-considered. These friends have kept my year busy and my heart full.

As I retreat more and more from fully sharing myself with the wide world, building up a little birch-wall against a canceling culture that demands to see within everyone with judgement; I’m grateful to be retreating to instead of merely retreating from. Within the trees, we have a retreat of loving friends and family, where “with freedom, books, flowers, and the moon – who could be unhappy?”

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